A GRANDMOTHER AND A GRANDDAUGHTER
“We taught the daycare children by example, and you were with me.” Mrs. Gertrude said, tickling her granddaughter, Sharon’s side.
“I remember,” Sharon said, “but I’m twelve now!”
Mrs. Gertrude smiled as her ‘little Sharon’ donned her best grown up imitation. “Do you remember our career center? You and your friends pretended to be scientists, engineers, beauticians, firefighters, or ballerinas by wearing hats. Then we’d share read-to-me books while we passed the featured hat around.”
“It was fun,” Sharon said.
“Do you remember Bible time? With glee, you and your friends walked with Moses, Noah, Paul, and Thomas. You cast fishing nets with Peter, tugged on Mary’s hem, and took turns swaddling baby Jesus. Your teachers got to play dress-up. Those were good times.”
“Grammy, tell me about Mr. Art,” Sharon said, pulling her chair close to her grandmother.
“It was an idyllic world of ‘Show and Tell’—except for a secret I hid—money from our cashbox being stolen almost daily. I have to admit, I was angry about it. One fear loomed within me. Would I be able to show kindness when I discovered who the thief was? I prayed, ‘Father God, help me to see this person from Your perspective so my actions will please You.’ I continued leaving a small amount of money in the cashbox.”
“Tell me about the night you stayed over.”
“Get a flashlight. You be the lightening while I tell the story.”
Sharon flickered the flashlight as she listened…
One evening I was ironing sequins on a hat I was crafting. A storm was brewing, so I had parked my car in the garage. Suddenly, I heard a crash in the office area. As I investigated, a man rose from behind the desk.
“Jesus, help!” I called out, still clutching the craft iron.
The cashbox lay open on the floor. I knew this man was the thief, but as I looked at his demeanor, my initial fear of this intruder left, and my mind raced with ideas of how to help him. He needed clothes, a bath, even shoes, but most of all, I felt he needed understanding.
“Sir, you’re caught red-handed, you know that, but I want you to know Jesus still loves you,” I said.
A strange compassion filled my soul as I spoke those words. How can I be eyeball-to-eyeball with the thief, and feel empathy? I thought. Then I remembered my prayer and knew God was showing me He loved this man and so must I.
The man shifted from one foot to the other, “Let me pass.”
“No,” I said, “Just relax, and tell me what your needs are.”
“Get outta my way.”
“Sit,” I said.
I stayed in the doorway, still holding the iron. I knew he thought I might use it as a weapon, but I wouldn’t have.
The man sighed. He sat.
“My name is Mrs. Gertrude. What’s yours?”
“People calls me Art.”
“Thank you, Mr. Art. Let’s figure things out. Why you didn’t ask us for help.”
Mr. Art shrugged.
“Are you behind on your bills? Do you need groceries? We have a clothing closet…”
“I don’t need that.”
“No one’s gonna help me get what I want.”
“Please, help me to understand.”
After a long silence, Mr. Art spoke. “People gives me stuff. But, nobody gives me liquor, that’s why I steals from ya, But, I takes jest enough to get booze fer the night.”
I believed his confession.
“Are you gonna give me my booze?”
“No sir,” I said.
“Mr. Art, my struggles might not be the same as yours, but I fall way short of doing things right. That’s why I need Jesus. I’ve messed up too. The Bible tells us we ‘all have sinned.’ (Romans 3:23b KJV) And yet, He is still here for both of us.”
Mr. Art shuffled from side to side, nervously.
“Sir, when we ask Jesus to help us, He even shows us how to love and to act like He does.”
Mr. Art fidgeted in his pocket. He pulled out a twenty and handed it to me.
“Thank you, sir.” I said. “Tell me, do you really want to keep the booze habit?”
Mr. Art shrugged, “I’m not proud of it.”
I put the iron on the desk and motioned. “Walk with me, please. I’m fully aware you could dash out that door and disappear into the night, but I trust you want me to help you more than you want to escape our encounter.”
Mr. Art followed. We entered the play room.
““Do you see these hats?”
Mr. Art nodded.
“If you were free from the addiction, which would you want to wear?”
Mr. Art slouched.
“Go on! Pull them off the peg board and dream a little!”
“I likes this one.” Mr. Art said, pulling out an artist’s hat.
“Do you paint or draw?”
“I used to. But…”
“Then you drank….”
“I know I’m going to jail tonight, but I’m already in prison from this drinking.”
“Are you’re ready for a do-over? Let’s ask Jesus to be in charge of your future.”
“Does religion work?”
“Religion doesn’t work, but a relationship with Jesus does.” I said, pulling a Bible from the shelf, “If you invite Jesus into your inmost being, and you believe He is yours, He changes you from the inside-out. The Bible says, ‘If any man trusts in Christ, he becomes a new man.’” (2 Corinthians 5:17 paraphrased) That means, with Jesus in your life, you’ll get that do-over. You’ll be able to start as if you never took one sip of liquor. I turned to Romans 10:9, “Do you believe me enough to pray with me?”
Mr. Art nodded. I grasped the hand of my brother-to-be. Fears melted, and faith arose as we prayed. A familiar warmth entered the room. I knew it was the presence of my unseen Savior, receiving the prayer of His new son into the family of God.
Just then, an officer rapped at the door. I opened it. He cuffed the intruder, who had become my friend. I almost wished the silent alarm hadn’t gone off.
“Mr. Art, would you like me to recommend a recovery house to the judge?”
“Officer,” I said, reaching for a Gospel of John Pocket-Bible, “please make sure this gentleman gets this.”
The officer tucked the Bible into Mr. Art’s shirt pocket.
“Will you read it?”
“Yes ma’am. I’ll read every word. An’ that’s a promise.”
“Thank you.” I believed Mr. Art would keep his word.
The officer turned toward the door with Mr. Art in tow.
“Ma’am?” Mr. Art said.
“Thank ye for bein’ kind. I’m used to bein’ shown I’m a nobody. You’re different.”
“And you, sir, are an artist in the making.”
PRAYERS FOR MR. ART
Sharon touched a picture on Mrs. Gertrude’s wall, “This is what Mr. Art sent you.”
“It is, child. And I picked the prettiest frame in the gallery to display his masterpiece.”
The oil painting portrayed a man with a broken bottle in one hand, and his other hand lifted to the sky. I knew it was Mr. Art’s way of showing me that with God’s help, he was recovering.
“Let’s pray for Mr. Art again, Grammy.”
Grandmother and granddaughter prayed for the gentleman they had learned to love—the artist named Mr. Art, who had found his way to salvation by playing ‘Show & Tell.’ He had changed from the inside-out, but Mrs. Gertrude knew the biggest change was within herself. God had removed her stony heart and had tucked within her a seed of compassion for the lost, the broken, and those who needed to know they could place their faith in the Master Artist.
Genre: Show ‘n Tell is a fictional short story based on real life events.
Copyright 2018: Show ‘n Tell: VineWords: Diane Virginia: All Rights Reserved
Published: Faith Beyond Fear: Editor Alynda Long: August 2018