Friday, January 13, 2012

Surprising Welcome


He was one of the first people Cliff Barker met upon his arrival. Pleasant looking young man. Probably about twenty-three with open smile and generous handshake.

"Mr. Barker, it's great to see you. I heard something about your coming and thought I would come down to check. Oh, pardon me; you probably don't recognize me. Last time we talked I was only nine. But I have remembered you all these years. My name is Peter Worthington."

'The Worthingtons,' Cliff thought to himself, 'Hadn't they been the ones who suffered a marriage break-up and moved away from the old neighbourhood at Cedar Street? And the stalwart boy, that summer...Peter.'

"You're absolutely right, Sir, I am that one you talked to in the school yard. I told you about my fears and my parents' arguing. You spoke to me about Jesus and his particular sympathy for children with problems. You made Him seem so real to me and you excused yourself to come back with a captivating small book on the Gospel. I didn't say much, but I took it home and read it and re-read and studied the pictures. A rich private prayer life was budding, and all because you cared.

Well, my hopes and prayers didn't stop the divorce. I ended up with Mom. I kept on praying for that and a bunch of other things. Five years later they agreed to take another try. God came through. That's when I became really convinced that I was meant for ministry."

"Pete, I can hardly believe what you're telling me. We had so little time to share, and then you were gone. Just that afternoon in the schoolyard and perhaps three other talks in the evening over that summer. I never felt the liberty to talk to your parents. I almost yielded to the temptation not to talk to someone else's kid about religion...And now to think, that you became a minister!"

"No Sir, I didn't get that far. The bus accident happened after second year. And I came here. But believe me, there has been great opportunity for service and ministry ever since. Excuse me now, I have another appointment. We'll talk another time. Funny, isn't it, up here, even thinking about the concept of time..."

Cliff had always expected that Heaven would be full of surprises just like this.


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