19 04 2015

Ran into an old college friend of mine over in Fort Wayne a while back and had he not spoken first I probably wouldn’t have Rock _nknown who he was. When I met Reed during our freshman college year he looked more like a freshman in high-school; baby face, thin, wavy hair, very clean cut and happy-go-lucky. Everyone liked Reed including myself since he was so friendly and easy going. We had classes together and even the professors enjoyed his presence. That’s how he started at least, but by our sophomore year he became very quiet and avoided most people. During that time he missed classes and assignments so much he was placed on academic probation. The following term his old outlook seemed to be back with a determination to turn things around at school. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long and he was back cutting classes until one day he withdrew and I never saw him again; that is until the day 35 years later there on the street getting out of his car. He was headed into a sports bar to watch a football game and drink a few beers and asked if I would join him. I almost said, “No,” but the dramatic change in how he looked and acted was enough for me to say, “Sure, but just for a little bit.”

Reed, the well groomed youthful looking young man I knew now looked older than his years. He had put on a lot of weight, so much it would have been impossible for him to tuck his shirt in. The easy friendly features to his face were still visible, but so were hard facial lines, yellow teeth which I knew was from years of smoking, and the wavy hair was now greasy and unkempt. Grabbing a table near a large TV screen, he ordered us a pitcher and we began to talk.

Wasting no time I got to the root of my inquisitiveness. “Reed, what’s been gong on with you dude? You were in school, then suddenly gone. What happened?” “Life happened and I was sick of it,” he shot back. You didn’t know me well, but my old man was very well to do and I had pretty much anything I wanted, except real happiness. Dad was always on my case telling me I wouldn’t amount to anything if I didn’t do things the way he wanted, and no matter what I did it was never good enough. When we were in college and I didn’t get all A’s then I was a slacker and a loser. I realized one day that trying to meet up to his expectations was futile, so I just quit trying. I left school, moved over here and started selling used cars at a lot and did pretty well at it, too.” Well that must have made your dad happy to know you found your niche in life at least,” I said. Reed roared with laughter, and then began again. “Are you kidding, he went through the roof! Couldn’t believe I was throwing my life away on something so degrading as he put it and ordered me out of the house; I’ve been over here every since.” We went on to talk a little about family now and I learned Reed had been married twice, but wasn’t at that time. “I have a couple of kids, but the one I never see and the other only occasionally, like when she needs money,” and he laughed again.

“Reed, I’m sorry to hear these things buddy, I never knew your situation and wish there was something I could do or say to help you.” Taking a long drink on his beer and staring at the game on the big screen, he didn’t speak for a while. Finally he broke the silence; “And what would that be Miller, how could you help my situation? Let me answer it for you; you couldn’t! Each of us was dealt our cards in the game of life and you just have to play them out, go on from there and live with it.” “Reed, are you telling me that you believe it’s impossible to change your life for the better? Surely you don’t believe that.” Reed smiled gently before answering “I do love you optimists, always saying things will get better. Maybe it does, but for how many, one in a hundred, maybe one in a million? Sorry, but with those kinds of odds I’ll just be content in my misery.”

As I got up to leave, Reed shook my hand and we parted with me telling him I’d be keeping him in my prayers. “Thanks Miller and I really mean that, but I’m okay, honest! Hey, it just wasn’t meant for all of us to have a lucky life like you my friend.”

I thought about Reed’s words all the way home that day and often since. Lucky, huh?
Let’s see, I grew up without a father, got moved around a good deal of my childhood days never having anyplace I could point to as home for very long, didn’t learn to read until I was 12 years old which caused me to be ostracized often in grade school and the only male “role model” I had in my life was physically and emotionally abusive. Throw in a boat load of insecurities to that resume and somehow the word “Lucky” just doesn’t seem to fit!

I won’t make light of Reed’s situation anymore than I would anyone else, but there’s a belief in me that says he could change his situation just the same as I did. That’s not to say I’m something special, but then many studies come to the same conclusion Reed did, that only a small few rise above bad circumstances. Personally, I think if you took all those studies and made into a solid material it would work well as a fertilizer for the garden! (As always, just my opinion)

Two things made a difference for me; the first was this gut check knowledge that I didn’t have to live as a victim of circumstances. I possessed the ability to change my course for the better, for the happier if I was willing to go for it; I truly believe that each and every one of us can do that. Then the second and the most important is learning that God, the Creator of the universe saw me as something special.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

I am a co-heir with Christ.  “Now if we are children, then we are heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. If indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share with His glory.” Romans 8:17

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

I know I say this often, but I am not a religious man, but one of faith. And the longer I “Travel the Rock Road,” the more I learn about the one I call Lord and about me also.

Like Reed, times have not always been the best. But unlike him I learned I have the ability to change course, by drawing on the strength inside of me, leaning on people who come along side to be a help (particularly the wonderful Lady God has blessed me with for over 40 years!), learning how to take the wrong things that have been in my life and make them right (That’s next week’s story but I’m getting ahead of myself) and finally to see myself as God sees me, redeemed, worthy of His love and perfect, even with all my faults; that comes through the Gift given in His Son Jesus. Awesome!!!

Never saw Reed again, but I think of him often, and when I do I pray for him. I pray that someday he might just see himself in a better light, that he may see himself as God sees him, a beautiful child He wants so much to give His love to, just like me, just like each you.

Max Lucado sums it up this way: “You weren’t an accident. You weren’t mass produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the earth by the Master Craftsman.”

Argue that one, will ya?!! See ya soon!




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