Looking out the window of the shelter, Stanley wished he could go back into the past and change everything. Was it his fault he wanted to fight for the country? His wife threatened to leave if he enlisted in the military.
“I need you here! You are no good to me there or dead!” She pleaded with tears.
“Honey, I promise to come back and take care of you! Let me do this for the country.” He was gentle with her because she was like a fragile flower blowing in the wind. Maybe he could have stayed, but his mind was set. He felt in his heart that it was duty to fight for the country. After all his father and grandfather are veterans. Why couldn’t she understand that?
“What if you don’t?”
“The Lord will protect me. His angels watches over me.”
“Just go away! You don’t care about me.”
“Yes, I do!”
She walked away to her room and shut the door.
He knew that she had lost her father several months ago to cancer but when he approached her at a later time about his plans she seemed okay. He knew he already lost her when she would not let him sleep in bed with him. The love was good. “What happened to our vows we made?”
She came rushing out of her room in angry rage. “What about it?!!! What happened to love and cherish me--”
“That is not love!”
“To hell with you!” More tears. “I am filing for divorce!”
“You do what is best. I am not going to fight you anymore.”
For six months while he was in Afghanistan, he kept thinking about her. He sent her cards, but he got it back, “No such addressee.” His buddies try to help him and even prayed for him about his marriage. “She’ll get over it and want you back.”
“We married too young. She is only 22. I am 24.”
“When did you marry?”
“Two years ago. She was the sweetest little drop of honey I have ever seen.”
They laughed.” Drop of honey?”
He just smiled. The guys teasing him did not bother him. SO what is he wasn’t macho like them. “What about you guys? Married?” He looked at them. They all look like they were twenty something too.
“Girlfriend,” Dale said.
“Girlfriend,” Brad replied.
“Divorced,” Alex said. His wife divorced him long before he enlisted and it was over an affair he had with a younger woman.
“You miss her?” Dale asked.
“Yes.” He was quiet afterwards then they began with their assignments.
Coming home was a different story. He had gotten to know the three men he was with over the six months and each promised to keep in touch, but Dale was honorably discharged because his leg was hit and became crippled to use. Such as the life of a vet or a soldier who risked his life for freedom. Only Alex and Brad came out unharmed in Afghanistan with Stanley. Yet Stan was alone. His wife kicked him out of the house, giving him the divorce papers and he had no place to go. He would retaliate, but Jesus says to turn the other cheek. Retaliation was not something he would do for he would dishonor God. “Alright, honey but I am here if you--” before he can finish, she slammed the door on him. “ I forgive you.” He walked away with his duffel bag and saw that she had put his things in the back of his truck. “I love you and always will, honey!” He climbed in the front of his truck with no place to go. He put in Rascal Flatt’s CD and listened to What Matters Most.
“Dear Jesus, she is in your hands. I listened to my heart. If that was wrong then forgive me.”
Now here he was at a men’s shelter. Instead of seeking someplace familiar to lodge, he decided to stay at a shelter. . It was affiliated with First Baptist Church and though he was a member of The Living Water Church, they didn’t have a shelter. He was too proud to seek help from them, but humble enough to seek shelter. Some of the men introduced themselves to him.
“Name is Frank. You are too young to be homeless. What is your story?”
“My wife threw me out because I went to serve my country in Afghanistan.”
“Man! Your wife and mine should get together! I came home and found out she had an affair because she thought I wouldn’t return. I served in Vietnam! Been homeless since, but not alone. I have Jesus right here.” He pointed to his heart and he smiled. “One sweet by and by, I will be up there with Jesus.”
“Me too, brother!” He shook his hand.
“And you and your wife will reunite.”
“I am praying so. I still love her.”
“God will have to work in her heart and soften it. How is her relationship with Jesus?”
“So so. It may have waned a bit since I left.”
“Well, if she truly loves you, she will miss you.”
“What about you?” He looked at him and saw that although he was a little rough around the edges, the Vietnam vet had a soft spot. He saw a twinkle in his eyes.
“She married another man.”
“Could not convinced her I loved her.”
“So how long have you been a Christian?”
“Twenty six blessed years.”
He looked at his new friend trying to see if his friend is old enough to be in Vietnam. He saw some gray in his hair and some wrinkles on his face, but other than what was about him gave him the appearance of an younger man.
“I will be 63 in April.” He gave away his age as if he read his mind.
“So you were young and in love with me. I didn’t come to know Christ until I was fifteen.. Knowing him was the best thing that happened to me, but as for my wife or soon to be ex-wife--’
“Shhh! Don’t you know what the Bible says about the words of our mouths? She IS your wife!” He smiled.
Stan liked the old man because he had a positive attitude. He even wondered if Frank missed having a home of his own or that he was used to being homeless. Chances are he was used to it. Many homeless people have no choice but get used to it. Since he was a young Christian and Frank was not, he decided to name Frank his mentor and hope to learn from the old man about faith and life. Of all his nine years of following Jesus he still had a lot to learn.
Stan began everyday at the shelter being responsible for his bed. He was blessed to share a room with Frank because he was his first real friend since he moved in. Most of the men didn’t care to have friendship with a young guy like him. They looked at him suspiciously. Only one who didn’t and it was Frank. When he wasn’t looking for work, he would spend the day with Frank and on the streets with him. It would be one big lesson in humility because if you were hungry, you eat what you could and where you can.
“I can remember the first day I said goodbye to my pride,” Frank said as they walking down Ash Street. “People looked at me as if I was scum, not deserving to live.”
“They don’t know your story.” Stan said.
“And they wont know yours and they wont care. Have you ever shared your faith with someone better off than you?”
“No.” He was too ashamed to admit. He knew that as a Christian, he was suppose to tell people about Jesus, but he came up with reasons why not. “Have you?”
“TRIED? Yes. I hear hogwash from so called Christians who say that we are suppose to be poor.”
“Well, Frank, we are. We are the scum of the earth, but Jesus loves us.”
“You are not getting my point. Imagine a man in his forties with no place to go and no worldly possession yet has faith. He approaches another man who looks to be a wall street Financier and you say to him, ‘Can I tell you about Jesus?’ What do you suppose he will say?”
“Something not nice?”
“You got it! I learned that for 26 years.” He paused as if he was reflecting on something. “I spoke to my pastor,” He said then looked at him “Bet you thought I was churchless, didn’t you?”
“Didn’t cross my mind.”
“I spoke to Pastor Bryson. You will meet him. He comes around to the shelter every day after church and he teaches us from the word. I told him that poor people needs to hear the gospel not rich people! He reminded me of Lazarus and the rich man! I had to laugh! He said that most rich people have their comforts in this life, but he also said not to give up. If God calls you to preach the gospel to someone, do it. Leave it to God to take care of the rest.”
“The parable of the four soils.”
“Ah yes and the seed fell where?” He winked.
“On the ground full of weeds.”
“You got it!” He smiled. “So what are your plans today?”
“Plan to get my life on track.”
“I am curious. Most of the men think you should have a place to live. Don’t you have parents?”
“My mother and father lives in another state. This city is where I live. Besides I go with my heart.”
“Yeah. God may have a purpose for you to be here.”