Lessons on Having a Grateful Heart

4 08 2019

I was recently reminded of an old friend (and I use the term “friend”Rock _n loosely) that I worked with years back. Gabe was a man that had a story for everyone you told him. If you did something, he did more and better. If you were sick, he had it worse but healed up faster. I think you get the idea. Not a lot of guys would sit with old Gabe at break time; but being the type of person I am, I would let him regale his latest exploits as I sipped on my coffee. The day came a certain gal he met seemed to take an interest in him and the two were together every chance they had. It made my coffee break much quieter.

Her, being originally from Los Angeles, convinced Gabe they would have a much better life if the two of them moved to L.A. It wasn’t long before my friend sold everything he had amassed over his adult life to pay for their journey west. He asked my opinion and I told him, “You just met this gal and really don’t know that much about her. Why don’t you wait say a year or so to get to know each other better before you give up a good job. L.A. is not going anywhere; if you still feel strongly about going out there, you’ll at least be more prepared. Well, that was a waste of words and breath. A week later they were piled into an overpacked car and heading to California.

About a month passed and I get a collect call; it was Gabe. “What’s up Gabe?” “I don’t believe it.” We rented a nice apartment that took most of my money and the only job I could find paid me less than what I was making and it’s more expensive to live here.” Then she throws me out and the only place I could afford to stay at was this flophouse. And it’s scary! I made a big mistake. It there anyway you can send me money to take a bus back home?” Oh Brother! Cathy and I were just barely making ends meet. We had just had our first child so living on one income, my job, was enough to meet our needs but that was about it. I told him to call me back in an hour so my Lady and I could talk about it. We did talk and pray about it. Bus tickets were still affordable, but when you’re stretched economically any added expenses are tough. We discussed how different people helped us when we were in trouble and we felt it wouldn’t be right not to do the same for someone else. So, I wired him the money.

Several weeks past before Gabe came to see. He had a new job and was living with a friend until he could get on his feet. He got around to saying, “Now I’m going to pay you back just as soon as I can.” That was something else Cath and I talked about. We could have told Gabe this is a loan, but the ones that helped us never did, so we felt strongly to act in the same way. “Gabe, don’t worry about it. If you’re ever in a spot to pay us back fine, but if not that’s okay.” Without hesitation his next words, “Okay, thanks.” I had to smile a bit at his comment, but I wasn’t surprised or upset. At least not until later on.

Time passed and I was laid off from my job and now we were expecting our next child. We couldn’t afford to do anything, so other than odd jobs I’d pick up to bring in a few bucks, we stayed home. One evening Gabe stopped by to visit. He was now working two jobs and doing quite well for himself. He also said he was sorry to hear about our situation. He then stopped talking, pulled out his wallet and began counting the money he had. Cathy and I looked at each as if to say, “Are we about to see a miracle here’? Is he getting ready to pay us back for our kindness?”  After he had fingered though his wad of bills, he stuffed them back in his wallet. “Have to go to the grocery store when I leave here, just wanted to see if I had enough money on me.” As soon as he left out anger exploded! Same old Gabe. He just wanted to show off the stash of money he had, with no intentions of paying us back.

After the anger cooled down; we reminded each other that we hadn’t made a loan to Gabe. We gave freely and whether or not he ever paid us back was entirely on him. He chose not to so there was nothing more to say.

Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working FOR THE LORD, and not for men.”

Old Gabe was happy for the gift we gave him, but it was obvious he wasn’t grateful for the sacrifice we made. But the two of us had taken a commitment that whatever we do would be treated as if we were doing it directly for our Lord. When you consider the sacrifice Christ made for all of us on the cross so that we would be with Him in heaven someday; well, a few bucks gone doesn’t even begin to match up. Besides, you can’t out give God. I’m not into this prosperity theology I hear today, but I do know anything done with a grateful heart, God will see and know. Times got rough, but I can say we never saw a hungry day, nor went without a roof over our heads or a bed to sleep in. Sometimes we stood in amazement when money came in just in time to take care of a bill. Awesome!

“It’s one thing to be grateful. It’s another to give thanks. Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.” –Tim Keller

So, whatever happened to this “Traveler of the Rock Road” the Lord put in my path? Last time I heard anything; he had met another gal that convinced him to move to Arkansas. I suppose I was glad to hear he was gone again. God used Gabe to teach me to do everything with a grateful heart, or don’t do it at all. Still, being human it was kinda nice to know I wouldn’t be running into him and be a captive audience for some of his stories of conquest and victory.

I wish the old boy well. But to this day I look hard at a caller ID to make sure it’s not him before answering it!

Thanks for reading.

See ya next time.

 


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One response

9 08 2019
Beverly Crane

God works through us in so many different ways. Love your stories!! Don’t ever stop sharing them John. Thank you.

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