There he was again. Standing on the side of the street holding up his cardboard sign. It read: Jesus will be back, are you ready? A lot of people blew the horn at him. A lot yelled bad words. A few younger people threw stuff at him. But even some people in their 40’s and 50’s insulted him.
His name was Johnny, I called him Mr. Johnny. My dad told me Mr. Johnny had been holding up signs for at least 30 years now. Sometimes the words changed but they always warned people that Jesus would be back.
My dad passed away two years ago. Before he passed we would stop at least once a week, sometimes more to visit with Mr. Johnny. He was a pleasant man, I knew he had genuine faith.
My dad asked him once, “Johnny, don’t you have anything else to tell people other than Jesus is coming back?” I was embarrassed that my dad asked him that but without a blink Mr. Johnny said, “There’s plenty I could tell people Tom, but if I don’t tell them about Jesus then all the rest is a waste.”
I haven’t visited him hardly at all since my dad died. When I told him my dad had died a tear rolled down his cheek and he said, “Tom was my true friend, my true brother in the Lord.”
I went to church plenty of Sundays with my dad before he passed, not much since then. Honestly our visits with Johnny did much more for my faith than any Sunday service between 11 and 12. Mr. Johnny never said much about the church, definitely not anything negative. But what he had I never saw anyone at church have. His faith was real, not scheduled. His conviction was true, not taught by a clergyman. His focus was God, not himself. Whenever we stopped I hardly ever had a chance to ask him, he would say, “Hey Junior you want to hear what verse I’ve been thinking on this week?” His heart was full of Jesus when he talked about those words from the Bible. He never went to college or got a degree but the words that he shared with me were full of love and truth and warning. I knew he told the truth whether others liked it or not. “After what Jesus did on the cross for a wretch like me Junior, I can’t shame him by not telling people the whole truth,” he said to me more than once. “I know Mr. Johnny, thank you for telling me the truth. I thank God for you, that you care more what He thinks than anyone else.”
My faith these days is kind of wavering. I know God’s real but I haven’t really been looking for Him. Honestly I’m mostly about myself and very little about God. I know it’s not the road I want to be on, but once you get on this road it’s not the easiest one to get off of. Especially when everyone else seems happy that your there too. I went back to church a few times, but things are the same there unfortunately. I know that the kind of faith that is freely available there is not the kind of faith that I’m in need of.
I know I really need to stop and see Mr. Johnny soon. I’ve been a bad friend to him. I will say that pretty assuredly if it wasn’t for him holding up those signs the last few years and taking the time to tell me about Bible verses that I probably wouldn’t have any faith at all. I thank God for Mr. Johnny and others like Him who put Christ above all else despite what anyone else might think of them. Maybe I’ll stop by and see him soon. I need to.