My Enemy Needed to Hear This

18 09 2017

Cindy dearly loved her father, Jack; he was understanding, always happy, calm in hisRock _n demeanor, a loving parent and husband, and a good Christian man who told her often about the love of Christ. If she had any problem with her dad it was the fact that he never got angry, no matter what anyone said or did to him. If they had bad service at a restaurant he’d make excuses for the waitress, “They must be really busy or she probably has a lot on her mind tonight.” If they were in the car and another driver honked their horn and yelled something hateful Jack would smile, wave and even say, “Sorry” whether he was in the wrong or not. The only place his patience would get a little thin would be at his job. Jack worked in a factory on a production line with a group of hard talking men that enjoyed riding him knowing he wouldn’t ever say anything back. One in particular, Ben, seemed to make it his life ambition to ride Jack just as hard as he could every day. He’d yell at him, do things to make Jack’s job harder plus make him the brunt of every joke that came out of his mouth. Cindy’s dad would take it in stride saying, “We work hard and put in longs hours; they don’t mean any harm, it’s just Ben and the guys way of blowing off steam.”

Then came the day Jack did something that shocked everyone including himself. Toward the end of a long and hard 12-hour shift with Ben constantly belittling him, he had finally taken all he could. Dropping his tools on the shop floor Jack walked up to Ben, grabbed him by the shirt and yelled in his face, “I Hate you! Don’t you ever talk to me again!” Giving Ben a shove he walked back to his workstation, with complete silence from his coworkers the rest of the day. Arriving home his wife could tell something was wrong. He told her what had happened and how terrible he felt for losing his temper. His wife told him it wasn’t his fault and Ben had it coming. But Jack didn’t see it that way and knew what he had to do. Arriving at work the next day he walked up to Ben and told him how sorry he was for his actions. Most men would have accepted the apology, understood what led up to that altercation, but not old Ben. With his speech laced with obscenities he told Jack how worthless he was, he never liked him and he was more than happy never talk to him again. The rest of the guys eased up after that day and it made Jack’s job much easier. But Ben remained bitter; he not only wouldn’t talk to Jack but stopped talking to everyone on the production floor. If they wouldn’t take his side then he didn’t see any of them as friends.  Jack tried again and again to make things right, but Ben always refused. A few years later Ben retired but didn’t let anyone know about it until he was gone. The crew said it was good he was gone since he and his sour attitude were gone, but Jack was saddened that Ben was gone without their making amends. He had never had someone hate him and couldn’t get past it. He still hoped and prayed that maybe someday the two of them could make things right. That chance would come a year later.

Cindy speaking, “I was grown and had moved out but was at the house the day my dad got the call; I knew it serious from the look on his face. It was one of his coworkers letting him know Ben was in the hospital with late stage cancer and wasn’t expected to live long. He said, I’m going to go see Ben, mom’s not home, would you go with me? I didn’t want to, but there was no way I was going to say no. We drove an hour to the cancer hospital, Ben was lying in the bed and I could tell he was struggling. Dad walked over to the bed, took him by the hand and said, Ben, it’s me, Jack. Ben looked up and immediately started crying.”

“Jack, I’m sorry for the way I treated you, I think I was jealous of the man you were, but didn’t know how to tell you.”

“Dad stopped him. No Ben, I’m the one who is sorry. You rode me hard, but you made me better at my job, I learned a lot from you. You were my hero, but I never got the chance to tell you, because of my hateful words, and I hope you can forgive me.”  Now there were tears coming from both these hardened blue collar workers, even more when they embraced.  I left the room so he couldn’t see my face was a mess from crying also. When he came out into the hallway way I’ll never forget what he said to me, “He had been my enemy and he needed to hear those words from me.”

Jack saw the problem he had with Ben as a failure, not only to himself but to God. His heart told him at some point he would have to try to make IT right, and if that attempt failed he had to keep trying.             C.S. Lewis said, “You must ask for God’s help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again.”

Jack equated this to his relationship with Ben and the need to make things right, if not for himself then in the name of his Lord.

Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

For the next 9 days Jack visited Ben each day, and they laughed, smiled, and talked like old friends; his prayer had been answered. Still he had another prayer that concerned Ben, a bigger one he hoped desperately would be answered before it was too late.

On a Thursday morning, Ben passed away. But on the previous Tuesday, his now best friend in the entire world, led this “Traveler of Rock Road,” on the path the leads to Heaven.

Titus 3:3-5 says, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”

I imagine there’s more I could tell about Cindy’s dad, Jack and his friend Ben, but I think I’ll just leave it here for you to ponder. I know it got this man thinking.

See ya next time.


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