(Click here for Part 1)
I needed to talk to Tom. Tom loves people. Tom loves helping people. I knew Tom would give good advice on what to do with Jerry. Tom also loves Diet Coke. Tom was walking out of Lenny’s with a Diet Coke in his hand. I yelled for Tom to come get in my car. Tom did. I circled around Lenny’s and ordered a Coke (not diet) in the drive-thru. While in the Lenny’s line, I told Tom about Jerry. I also told Tom something I haven’t told you yet.
What I told Tom that I haven’t told you till now is after Jerry walked away from my skilled interrogation, I called First Baptist Church, Rome, Georgia. You know what they said? “We have never heard of Jerry. Not any of our members have called us to say they were stranded in West Memphis. And no. Our dear Pastor Snider is here in town. Not on a mission trip with the seniors.”
After hearing this news from Rome, I felt thrillingly justified in my behavior.
Tom looked disappointed with my story. I knew he would be. I wanted to throw my non-diet Coke at him but it would have made his argyle sweater really sticky.
Tom said he wanted to tell me a story. I said “okay.” He talked and I listened. I am not going to tell you Tom’s story because it’s better than my story. But I will tell you the point from Tom’s story.
God didn’t say “Only give to the cool and righteous poor people.”
Tom stuck it to me with a good story and Bible to back it up.
I then evicted Tom and his drink out of my car. Because he was right. And because I’ve heard aspartame is contagious. Before he left, Tom gave me a little New Testament to give Jerry if I ever found him. See ya’ Tom.
I did find Jerry. He was talking to an old lady in a 4Runner. I quickly paper-clipped some money and a business card inside the New Testament so he could buy food or gas or whatever. If he read the New Testament and had some questions, I wanted him to call me. Or call me if he ever fractured his leg in an unfortunate, albeit potentially lucrative, car accident.
When he saw me, he stopped mid-sentence and sauntered over. He had a hundred tiny sweat beads dancing desperately on his upper lip. And so it was that for the second time in one day at Walgreens, I rolled down my window for Jerry.
Cautious Jerry: Yeah?
Timid Me: Hey, I changed my mind. I wanted to give you a Bible and some money. I put my card in there too in case you want to talk about anything. I’ll be praying for you Jerry.
Happy Jerry: Sure thing. God Bless you.
Slightly Less Timid Me: I want you to know something though. I called First Baptist Rome and they have never heard of you. Though the pastor is named Snider, he is not on a mission trip.
Super Confused Jerry: [Looked at me like he was super confused.]
Me: My point is I don’t believe your story but I believe Jesus wants me to give this money anyway. You can call me anytime. Jesus has a plan for you.
Exiting Jerry: [As he exits stage right] I don’t know why the church said that but whatever…
He continued to talk as he walked off but I couldn’t hear what he was saying.
I still don’t know if I handled part 2 of my conversation with Jerry completely right. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything about my phone conversation with the Romans. Didn’t Jesus confront the lady at the well when he helped her?
But I’m not Jesus. I’ll have to think on that one. Maybe I am not supposed to ask questions of complete strangers who are in need. Maybe God is big enough to redeem a faithful and blind act of love. What if God similarly inquired of me before bestowing mercy, grace or blessing?
I drove back to get my medicine. I called Dick again while I waited. He listened as I told him about the second half of my story. Dick was glad I talked to Jerry again. He said Tom was smart. I told Dick I loved him again, hung up and headed home to my sweet family.
While driving north on I-55, I glanced in the passenger seat at that paper sack with ten pieces of anti-fungal goodness in it. I realized I have far worse spots than the ones on my skin. I am riddled with malignant pride, selfishness and cynicism — problems that pills won’t fix. But Jesus is far more patient with me than I was with Jerry. That makes me really glad.