Just Checking In
One day around lunchtime, a pastor was walking through the church sanctuary checking to make sure everything was in it's proper place. As he stopped at the altar to gather prayer requests, he heard the entrance door to the church open and shut. He was a little caught off guard when he turned around to see a scraggly old man walking down the aisle.
Frowning, the pastor noticed the man's beard had not been trimmed or combed, it seemed, for quite some time. His shirt and pants were filthy and stained and his shabby coat was two sizes too small for him.
Yet, the man never looked at the pastor nor said a word. He went straight to the altar, knelt and bowed his head for a few moments, then he stood up and walked out the door.
After three days of this man's regular routine, the pastor was somewhat concerned. Thinking this man was down on his luck and needed help, when he entered that day, the pastor walked up to him and spoke, "Excuse me, sir. I'm the pastor here and for the last three days I've noticed you coming in to pray. Is there something, maybe, I can do for you?"
He humbly lifted his head so his eyes would meet the pastors. In a very quiet, meek voice, the man answered, "Oh, I help the construction crew up the road picking up loose nails, wood chips and such. Da' boss man, he's a real nice feller. He gives me little bit of money everyday. Ain't much, but pays the bills, I guess. And dem boys working, sumtimes they gives me sum their lunch. I does alright, I guess."
Then the man took his eyes off the pastor, lowered his head and shamefully spoke, "When I was a child, my mom and dad was kilt in a car crash. I lived with different folks, mostly my other kinfolk, for awhile. Then they has to put me in an orphanage cause they couldn't afford it no mo'. But when I comes of age I left and got off on my own. But I never knew God.
I married this Christian woman. She really love her God. I watched her pray to Him all the time -- mornin', afternoon, suppertime, and even before she went ta bed at night. But she passed away 3 years ago and things ain't been the same since.
So at lunchtime, I comes down here to pray. It seemed to do sumthin' for my wife so I thought I might as well try it myself. Ain't got nuttin' else to lose. When I finish I do seem to feel a bit stronger and at peace, tho."
The man lifts his head and with an apologetic look on his face he continues to speak, "I don't stay very long, see, 'cause the site is a bit far for an old man like me to be walkin'. But when I kneel down to talk to the Lord, this is what I say, 'I just came again to tell You, Lord, how happy I've been since we found each others friendship and You took away my sin. I don't know much of how to pray, but I think about You everyday. So, Jesus, this is Jim just checkin' in. Amen.' But it's time for me to go now. Been nice talkin' wit cha. Bye." Then he hurried out the door.
The pastor was moved by this because he, himself, had not said a heartfelt prayer in awhile. His prayers had been by rote, therefore, his heart had hardened a little and become cold. But at that altar, he met with Jesus and was warmed by Jesus' love. So he knelt and repeated Jim's prayer, "I just came again to tell You, Lord, how happy I've been since we found each others friendship and You took away my sins. It's been awhile since I prayed a heartfelt prayer but I think about You everyday. So, Jesus, this is me just checking in."
The next few days, the pastor waited with anticipation, for Jim to come in because he wanted to pray with him.After a week passed and still no sign of him, he began to worry. He called the local hospital and discovered that Jim had been admitted just two days prior because he had a severe case of pneumonia. So the pastor rushed to the hospital and stayed at Jim's bedside.
The nurses mentioned to the pastor their concern that no friends or family came to show they cared and it seemed he had no one to turn to.
Jim overheard what the nurses said and with a smile he told them, "Oh but you're so wrong. But I guess you couldn't have knowed; all da' time I been layin' here, everyday at noon He's here, a dear friend of mine. Ya see, He sits right down, takes my hand, leans over and says to me, 'I just came again to tell you, Jim, how happy I have been since we found this friendship and I took away your sins. I always love to hear you pray. I think about you everyday and so, Jim, this is Jesus checking in.'"
Psalm 18:25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. NLT