Posted October 28, 2005 in MH Edmonton AB:
You Never Know

by Michael Fagan.

When I was at Marian Centre, I once knew a young man who had drunk everything there is to drink by the time he was sixteen. His attitude towards himself and everyone else was cynical and outright hostile. Everyone who dealt with him said he was beyond rehabilitation, and I don’t blame them for thinking that.

He was the perfect irritant to our tired nerves. And he knew exactly when to insert the dagger of his sarcasm.

“Preacher, preacher,” he would cry from across the crowded recreation or dining room, “hear my confession.”

Often when he was drinking, something absolutely bizarre would happen to him.
One Sunday morning, for example, I was all dressed up in my new suit when suddenly a white ghost appeared around the corner. At least that’s what it appeared to be. But a closer inspection revealed my dear obnoxious friend totally covered in white paint!

How did it happen? Well, very simply. Somebody dropped a full gallon of it on his head. Two hours later, after I had washed him with various soaps, his person was clearly identifiable.

Another time, I took the afternoon off. I had made a very clear decision that I was not going to answer the door to anyone that afternoon. I called it “battle fatigue”; you get like that sometimes.

Our friend looked in our window, saw me, and insisted that I give him a pair of pants. When I tried to ignore him, he kept knocking and crying out.

I can appreciate the Scripture reference to the persistent knock at the door. It’s better to get up and answer; otherwise it can drive you crazy. So, up I got and opened the door. And there he was, completely naked except for his socks! He told me that some men had stripped him while he was sleeping off his drinking. I believed him—and brought him some clothes.

I called this man obnoxious, yet there was something very lovable about him. He was the type who, when he got inebriated, embraced you with the intensity of a child.

Now that can be all right occasionally, but when his octopus grip upon your person continued, you had no choice but to try to break his hold.

I would do this quite simply by laying him on our lawn or floor on his back and holding him there until he fell peacefully asleep.

I prayed for this man, especially the day he appeared naked.

After that, many, many months lapsed before I saw our little Orphan Annie again. This time he was smartly dressed and carrying a Bible. He spoke with the seriousness and intensity of a man who has had a real religious experience.

He said it had happened to him when he was passing an evangelical mission on his way to the bar for a drink. He had stopped out of animosity, perhaps to mock, and Jesus had “knocked him off his horse.”

Two years later, he was still witnessing for the Lord and dropping by occasionally for a chat.

Never underestimate the power of God.


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