While eating breakfast together the bond between the two men grew stronger. Gabriel wondered at how Charlie seemed to genuinely care for him as if he was an old friend who stopped by to visit. They talked about sports that they both played as children. Charlie said he was not a great athlete but had enjoyed playing little league baseball and Pop-Warner football. Gabriel had played those sports and also basketball. Although Gabriel had actually been an exceptional athlete when younger, he just told Charlie that he was an “okay” player. Gabriel thought “that was long ago and not much to relish in now.” Though he did enjoy some very good memories. Charlie, didn’t really believe that Gabriel was anything but a born exceptional athlete. Even now Gabriel was still fairly lean and the way he moved revealed an athlete from a day gone by. And besides, perhaps Charlie had also been a better athlete than he had let on.
After breakfast Charlie revealed that he had already made the appointment for Gabriel to “get his ears lowered” so they got into Charlie’s old, but great running Ford truck to make the short trip to the barber shop. Charlie told Gabriel that he still preferred a “barber shop” and that he never did fill comfortable going to a fancy salon. Besides, he now didn’t have quite as much hair as he used to and he thought it would silly to go to a “hair salon.” When the truck radio came on Gabriel noticed that the radio was on a station playing Christian praise music. Gabriel didn’t say anything, but, as he looked out the truck passenger window, he smiled and enjoyed an old favorite of his from many years ago.
After they had pulled up to the Teddy’s Barber Shop Charlie stopped Gabriel and held out his hand as he told him “Here, take this. It should cover the cut and the tip.”
Gabriel saw that Charlie had sixty dollars in his hand that he was handing to him. Gabriel said “Hey Charlie, you’ve done so much for me, you don’t have to give me that. I’m not proud, I am thankful for your kindness to me.”
Charlie laughed and said “Hey, I’m thinking about both of us. We don’t need those geezers gabbing about you, or me. You know how those old guys can sit and gossip! All they need to know is that you are an old friend who’s visiting from out of town.”
“Okay, Charlie, but sixty dollars?”
“Well, you’re right, it shouldn’t cost but about fifteen, all said and done. But, if you don’t mind, I was thinking we could take a ride down to the coast and walk one of my favorite trails. Then, there’s this little hole-in-the wall place where we could stop and get something to eat. It’s a greasy spoon that’ll clog our arteries, but oh it’s good. And I figure that there, you could pay for me!” Charlie grinned as they walked into the barber shop. Gabriel just looked up and silently said “Okay Lord, all this is nice, but I know you’re up to something.”
In the shop, Charlie decided to also get a tune-up on his slightly overgrown hair. The men talked about different things like their memories of their first store-bought haircuts and the times they would go to the barber with their fathers and brothers.
Anyone watching would have thought that they were old friends with many shared memories. Well, they were finding out they were more than that. They were family from way before they met each other.
As the men were leaving the shop, Gabriel took a little look at himself in the mirror and thanked God as he, under his breath said “Thank you Lord. You know I cleaned up pretty well!”
Gabriel didn’t have long to admire himself as Charlie had noticed him looking in the mirror and said to him “Well, are we leaving or are you just gonna admire yourself in the mirror?” They both laughed as they walked out.
Charlie quietly said to the Lord “Thank you for bringing Gabriel into my life. You always know what I need, even when I don’t.”
Note: “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:18by Bob with
Gabriel woke up to the bright sunlight flooding through the bedroom window and filling the room. He had that fleeting “where-am I” thought that one has when waking in an unfamiliar place. But the years of Gabriel sleeping in different states and different cities had dulled any great alarm that he would have had if he had lived in a home for many years. His experiences had changed his alarm reflexes. Waking up to the sun was much better that waking up to a kick.
He paused to enjoy the soft bed and the clean sheet and blankets. It was pure luxury to Gabriel. It had been many years since he had slept in a bedroom by himself. He had slept in some mission beds, and he had been thankful for those. But the rooms were filled with many other men, many who groaned, sobbed and even shrieked in the night. To wake up in this spacious bed, instead of a cot, with the sun coming through a large window, being alone in the room, and sleeping without noises and smells from other men, was a special treat. After enjoying the bed, and the warmth, and the calm quiet of the room Gabriel rose and stretched. He looked out the window and surmised, by the position of the sun, that it was midmorning. Gabriel had been talking to no-one in the room. He went to the bed, and using it as a support he kneeled beside it to use it as a support. He continued his conversation with His always present friend Jesus Christ.
Upon his knees the first thing he did was chuckle a chuckle that grew into very robust laughing. As he was laughing he managed to get out “Oh My Lord, You are so good to me! Look at this beautiful place that You gave me to sleep in. Always, my Friend and Lord, You have been faithful to me.” For a moment Gabriel thought of how he could, today, pray in quiet solitude with his friend Jesus. If Gabriel spoke to Jesus aloud when in the street, some people would walk by him and mutter something like “Poor crazy soul. He is talking to someone who is not there!” They didn’t know that He was talking to was a friend who was always there, always listening, always talking to him. People often thought that Gabriel was a derelict who had “fried his brain.” Some would yell at him to “shut up and die.” At first Gabriel would be bothered by the shouts, stop praying, and walk to somewhere he could have a private conversation with his Jesus. (Gabriel always referred to Jesus as “My Jesus.” He was certain that was an accurate name for Him. Sure Gabriel knew that Jesus came to save all people, but Gabriel also knew that Jesus had also come solely for him.) The hateful language hurled at him hurt him. But, his Jesus would always speak to Gabriel to listen to him. To tune out the hate and focus on the love from God. Gabriel got good a blocking out the hate and focusing on the love. So good at it, that if the hate reached his conscious mind, he would simply pray that the person who said it would receive God’s great love through Jesus and then Gabriel would continue his conversation with his Jesus.
“And My Jesus” Gabriel continued with his prayer, “I want to thank you for bringing Charlie to me. I am so grateful for him being so kind to me and I will be sure to let him know that I am. I pray that you bless Him for His kindness to me. But My Jesus, it is you I am most thankful to. I know that all of my blessings come from You, and Father and Dear Spirit.” Gabriel began to sob “My Jesus, why you have been my friend, my brother and my ever-present companion amazes me. I am humbled and live by your love that has faithfully surrounded me all the days of my life. My Jesus, I don’t deserve your love. Today, My Jesus, may I share the love that you so bountifully give me with all that I am able. May I, in gratitude to You, honor you with obedience in sharing your message with others. May I do it because of the love you pour into me for them.”
Gabriel then rose, and as his father had taught him when he was a child, made the bed. He went into the “Jack and Jill” bathroom attached to the bedroom and shaved. Afterward he looked at himself in the mirror, in clean clothes, freshly shaven, still standing with the good posture that his mother had impressed on him. He smiled and said “My Jesus, not looking too shabby, though I could use a haircut, not that I’m complaining. Thank you!” Then he opened the door and walked to the kitchen where breakfast and hot coffee has just been prepared for him by Charlie. Charlie turned to see him and said “Looking good Gabriel! Hey, I was wondering if you today would like to see my barber for a fresh haircut?” Charlie smiled, looked up and said under his breath “Oh My Jesus, You know my thoughts and desires before I do!”
Note: Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)by Bob with
There once was man who lived in an inner city in America. He lived in abject poverty, had no home to live in and only one set of tattered clothes. He couldn’t remember the last time he bathed. Hunger and thirst were ever with him, yet what hurt more was the loneliness in his heart. To him it seemed that the people who most noticed him were those who shouted mean things at him, or even who hit or kicked him. He often thought about just ending his life. He didn’t because, though he thought he had no right to have it, hope lived within him.
One day as the tattered man sat on the ground leaning against an old building at the end of little known dead end alley, a man walked up to him The tattered man had been dozing and was startled to see a modestly dressed man standing above him.
The man said to him “Don’t be alarmed. My name is Charlie and I just want to talk to you.” He had a calm and soothing voice. Charlie then asked the tattered man if it was okay if he sat next to him. Charlie did want to stand above the tattered man but preferred to sit on the ground next him.
Charlie asked the tattered man what his name was. The tattered man responded “Sir, my name is a good name that my parents gave me. I am Gabriel Michael Livingston the 3rd.”
Charlie smiled and his heart was warmed as he thought of how Gabriel’s parents must have lovingly selected his name.
After speaking for a while Charlie asked Gabriel if he would do him the honor of coming to spend some time with him at his home. Gabriel would normally not be so trusting as to accept the invitation, but Charlie had a calm and caring way about him, so Gabriel accepted the offer.
It turns out that Charlie’s son, when he had many years ago left the home to live with his new bride, had left some nice clothes behind. Charlie gave the clothes to Gabriel on the condition that Gabriel would enjoy a bath first and then have dinner with him. That sounded like a good deal to Gabriel.
As Gabriel soaked in the bath he wondered why Charlie was being so nice to him. Charlie was elderly, and maybe a little frail, yet he trusted Gabriel enough to invite him to his home. Gabriel hoped that Charlie did not have a wife who would show up and have Gabriel tossed from the house, though he wouldn’t blame her if she did.
After the bath, Gabriel and Charlie enjoyed a nice meal, in the front room, by the fireplace. When the meal and conversation were done Charlie asked Gabriel if he felt comfortable enough to sleep in what had been his son’s bedroom for the night Gabriel, still wondering what this was all about, was now comfortable enough with Charlie to accept the offer.
As Gabriel lay in the soft bed, with the warm blankets over him. He began to know that not letting go of hope may have been a good thing. But dare he let it grow? Then Gabriel did what he had continued to do all of his life, even through the hard times. He thanked God for loving him. Gabriel knew that would seem odd for some people to know that he always thanked God. But it was a habit his parents had taught him and he never stopped. So he thanked God for Charlie’s kindness. He told God, just before he fell asleep “I thank you for Charlie’s kindness but I know that this was all your doing. Thank you Lord.” And Gabriel fell asleep.
Note: Many people are tattered even if they don’t know it. Jesus owns the business of giving second chances to tattered lives.by Bob with