God’s sense of humor and irony blows me away. If you haven’t read my memoir Miracles and Grace in an Unlikely Place, the serendipity of this story won’t strike you the way it will my readers, but it is a great story just the same.
We are still working on the renovations at Johnny’s, and Monday was a long day. I was there at 6:20 after my morning workout. I needed to remove everything from our kitchen shelves in preparation for the arrival of our plumber who would be opening up the wall behind them. When I arrived I noticed a chemical smell in the kitchen. It wasn’t gas and as I moved around the room I was confused as to where it came from, wondering if the whole thing wasn’t in my imagination. I called Tommy and asked him to come and check it out. While he was there I asked him to remove the shelves to give the plumber a head start when he arrived.
To say that it didn’t go well would be an understatement. As always, when Tommy does any work at Johnny’s something goes wrong or is harder than it needs to be. When my darling husband came across a couple of stripped screws, all hell broke loose. The man that calls me potty mouth if I say damn was cussing like a sailor as he threw things around the kitchen. I was taking care of some of my many responsibilities at the time and became almost as agitated as he was. The scenario of Tommy turning a simple task into the equivalent of a kidney transplant has more than run its course with me. The subject is one of my most fervent prayers.
When the shelves were removed my husband left without saying goodbye; another way of letting me know how displeased he was. I spent another seven hours at the bar; dealing with many trying issues, and got more steamed about his attitude as the day wore on. Top it all off with a $38.00 parking ticket and I was headed down a slippery slope. I prayed all the way home that I would act in a godly fashion despite wanting to rip his face off. I prayed for the peace that surpasses understanding and asked God to keep a watch over my mouth.
When I got home I was glad to find that the motorcycle was gone, which meant I had some time to pray and calm down. When Tommy returned from his ride and inquired as to how things went downtown I said, “They went.” I knew if I couldn’t say something nice I shouldn’t speak at all. After about forty minutes of stepping around the big elephant in the middle of the room I decided that I had to get things off of my chest. If you knew the old me, you’d already be quite proud of my restraint.
I’m happy to say that I did not scream, yell, or attack, although I did almost cry at one point. I’m glad I didn’t because when I lose control like that then I really get mad. I stated my case and told him that I thought his behavior was not only uncalled for, but also unchristian. He in turn told me how much he hated the bar and that although he knew it was wrong he couldn’t help himself. It may be that it represents too much of his old drunken life, but whatever the reason, we need lots of prayer in this area. And prayer came from one of the last people I would have imagined.
As I said, God shows His sense of humor in some pretty interesting ways. He planted Tommy in a men’s Christian lunch group that meets on Tuesdays. One of the members of that group is none other than my old nemesis, retired Police Chief Jeff Miller. I got a chuckle when Tommy shared that with me the first time. Tommy really liked the chief and I thought it was great. Despite having some very different opinions about our motorcycle rally, the chief and I did share a belief in God. I never doubted the chiefs’ faith. I believed he was misguided in the area of bikers. I didn’t think he saw the value of them as the wonderful people that I knew most of them to be. I thought that he should have put aside his fear of the Hells Angels and Mongols having a brawl in the middle of town during the motorcycle rally. I wanted him to put his faith in God as I did for a peaceful rally and expect the best. Why couldn’t he see things my way so that the city could capitalize on our rally?
We were very different people, with different agendas that shared the same God. So we disagreed, for the most part, agreeably. Now he is retired, has attended seminary, and shares lunch with my husband on Tuesdays. My husband treats those luncheons with almost the same anonymity that he gives his AA meetings. He very seldom tells me anything more than what he had to eat, so yesterday’s story came as quite a surprise.
He told me that he shared his problem with Johnny’s and the need to be more supportive with Jeff and another friend and asked for prayer. Then he told me that the chief is reading my book on his Kindle. When Jeff told him he said, “There are two bad guys in that book and both of them are sitting at this table.” I almost died laughing. God is so funny.
So, my husband enjoyed a wonderful prayer offered by none other than retired Police Chief Jeff Miller over our bar. How ironic is that? If anyone would have forecasted the event to me eight years ago I would have laughed in thier face. It just goes to show you that you shouldn’t underestimate God. He will use everything in your life for a purpose, in His timing.
My prayer is that in reading my book the chief will have a better understanding of what I was going through. And who knows, maybe one day we’ll all sit down together and he can share his side of the situation with me. We will probably never agree with each other on some subjects but as long as we share a loving and wonderful God, we can get along.