I needed a reminder.
) It had been a stressful few weeks. My son Jamey, and his two teenage children were staying with me while they waited to get into their new home. As I took over the responsibility of carting them to various functions, my son Jim (who truly thinks I belong to only him) became more jealous, anxious, and angry with every passing day. His social skills seem, to me, to be eternally stuck at that age of 13 with all its defiance, insecurities and puberty rage. It has been difficult for us all in that my youngest grandson is exactly that age. (I will let you draw your own conclusions. 😊) Enter a seventeen-year-old’s drama and I think you will get a true picture of recent life at my house.
For me, the headache of additional clutter, laundry, and driving time was most frustrating because it virtually handicappped my writing time. Selfish of me, I know. As I faced the deadline for the launch of my upcoming Bible Study Book, my anxiety and frustration have grown to match Jim’s.
This past weekend, moving day finally arrived. By Sunday afternoon, the move-in was almost complete. My daughter, Jennifer, and I went to town to pick up a few things.
“I like your t-shirt.” A gentleman stood behind me in line. I looked down to remind myself what I was wearing. It was a red t-shirt worn by the workers at our church. On the front, it says Dewy Rose Baptist Church. On the back, it has a cross and the words:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
Plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
Plans to give you Hope and Future.” Jeremiah 29:11.
The gentleman said, “I needed to hear that today.”
I replied, “Some days, I need to hear it more than once.” It was not a flippant answer, but, looking back, it was a selfish one.
He said, “I heard Him speak to me once. He said, ‘Trust me.’ “
I agreed that we must trust Him and hurried out the door after my daughter. Once in the car, my daughter asked if I knew who the man was. No, I did not recognize him. She told me he was “the man who carries the cross.” I had to ask her to repeat it twice because I did not understand what she meant. She told me his story. (I will not print the story here. It is his and not mine to tell.) In trust of God, through a difficult time, this man literally, physically, built a wooden cross and began to carry it all over town. More than a year later, he still carries the cross.
She pointed out the back car window, and I watched as he picked up a huge wooden cross, (I can only guess at 8 ft tall) positioned it over his shoulder, and started walking down the side of the road. The bottom of the cross had a wheel, and while it probably made movement easier, I am sure it did nothing to take away from the weight of the cross.
Jennifer said, “Mom, there is no telling how many miles he has walked with that cross on his shoulder.
I stated crying. I cried for this man I did not know. He had tried to tell me something important, but I took it as ‘check-out-line’ conversation. I cried for his trial, yes, but I cried for his service and his trust in God. I cried for his absolute belief that when Christ said, “Take up my cross and follow me,” he meant it.
I cried for myself as well. In shame. Faith-versus-Works is an age-old struggle. It is good to do the work our faith calls us to do. However, we must not become so involved in the work that we forget to have faith in God’s plan for our lives. His plans are perfect. Neither clutter nor anxiety, nor teenage drama will interfere with His perfect timing. I needed a reminder of this. God sent my reminder to me through a conversation in the check-out line. It was written on my back.
I smile now, as I write this. I see the irony of God’s reminder. I have been writing a lesson on the breastplate of righteousness for my Women’s Bible Study “Put It On.” The breastplate has no back. We don’t need back armor because God “has our back.”
Perhaps, if you are local, you have seen the man who carries the cross many times. I think it was another example of God’s perfect timing. I saw him exactly when God used him to speak to me. I think it is important to note that no chance conversation is unimportant. Either someone needs you to speak truth to them, or God is using someone to speak truth to you. Put down your phone, look up, and interact with the people around you. You never know who God is about to send your way.
Kim Marie Johnson
Marie is an ordained minister. She is an author, artist, and designer. Marie enjoys teaching and speaking. Most important to her are her relationship with God, her three children and five grandchildren who inspire her every second of every day.