That was Then; This is Now

19 07 2015

Couldn’t believe my eyes when I walked into the crowded room and got a glance of one of the last guys I thought I’d see at a Rock _nlow key function like this one was. There was old Jesse, one of the craziest, hard living, party all the time fellows I ever knew. He had quite a reputation of living for the moment but not being able to remember a whole lot about it the next morning. I liked old Jess, everyone did, but we didn’t hang out with him much mainly because I felt his lifestyle would put him in an early grave and there was no desire in me to follow suit. He once told me if he didn’t drink 6 beers first thing in the morning or smoke some good marijuana, he didn’t feel natural. He’d say; “Hey, you only live once and it might end up short; so I’m going to go for all the gusto and living I can get!” I had to agree with Jesse, the way he lived there’s no doubt he was having a good time, but he also had me believing he wouldn’t be around long enough to grow old. Now here he was at a gathering to hear an author talk about books he had written. He was standing with several others, drinking coffee, laughing and looking more alert than I had ever remembered seeing from him in the past. I walked up and casually said “Jess?”

He turned to see who called his name, and then a big smile covered his face. “Hey Miller, how’d you sneak into this place?!!” I wanted to ask him the same thing, but he dominated the conversation as if he didn’t want me to say a whole lot. He introduced me to his wife, a very lovely woman who I spoke to briefly before Jesse said, “Well we’ve got to get to our seats, good to see you John.” I returned his words and he was gone leaving me trying to figure out what just happened.

After the author was finished speaking, people were milling around again drinking punch and making small talk. I was standing in a small group when I saw Jesse heading what I thought was my way. Instead he pushed passed me, grabbed another guy by the arm and said “I heard you talking about me and you better stop now!” You could see the fear in this guy’s eyes and the look of anger in Jesse’s that said he meant business. Returning to his wife Jesse moved to the other side of the room, but I could see him looking my way.

Some time passed and I was getting ready to leave when Jesse walked up, “Hey Miller, can we go outside and talk for a minute?” After seeing his outburst I was a little hesitant, but agreed and we went to the parking lot.”
“That guy in there,” He started, “Well we use to hang out and get loaded a lot together and he was telling people in there about it and how crazy I’d get.” I was trying to find a diplomatic way of saying what my thoughts were. “Okay, but the fact is its true, and I’m not trying to make you mad, but you used enjoy being seen as the craziest of the crazy. Has that all changed now?” Jesse smiled before saying, “You saw my wife, that’s what changed. When I met Pam she was the first to look past my stupid ways and see me for who I really am, who I could be with her in my life. Since then I haven’t been stoned or drunk in over ten years and we now have two beautiful daughters that we’re raising to love Jesus and grow up doing the right things. That guy telling others of how I used to be is something I want to forget and never have my wife and children exposed to. I’m not that person anymore; that was then, this is now.”

Jesse and the way he now lived reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: “We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.” Chuck Swindoll

Jesse was aware that many still remembered his earlier life, but he was determined to show that person no longer existed; a new person with a new life had emerged, one that would bring honor to his wife, his family, and his Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

My man Jesse, another “Traveler of the Rock Road” didn’t see life as anything more than a constant party that you got the most out of you could and then you died. Along the way he met someone who showed him he was more important than that, to others, to himself, and to a God that loves him dearly. At that moment Jesse would tell you “Life” finally began.

“The old Jesse, yeah I knew that crazy manic, quite a character that guy! But he’s no longer around and he sure can’t hold a candle to the new Jesse anyway. Don’t believe me ask his Lady and his Lord, they’ll show you a new and better man has been born.”

See ya next time!!


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