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On a cold, snowy , winter night, Pastor Norum was ensconced in his study preparing his Sunday sermon, when a knock on the outside door of his church office intruded on his thoughts. "Who would be out on a night like this?" he mused. He was irritated that he was being interrupted. His thoughts were not coming together, and he wanted to get the work done on the sermon he had to preach the following morning; if the weather allowed it. The knock was repeated. Pushing his chair back, he brusquely walked to the door and impatiently pulled it open. The winter wind helped him, knocking him a bit off balance. He held on firmly to the door knob to keep himself from sprawling on the floor. This only aggravated his already upset condition.
To those who knew him more intimately, the pastor was known to have a "short fuse". He worked overtime around his parishioners to keep a tight reign on the reactions he often felt toward people's problems. In his thinking most of them were petty. Neither was he much given to small talk Other than the fact that he was responsible for a prestigious church in the city, Pastor Norum frequently asked himself why he was in the ministry in the first place. Seeing the disheveled condition of the man standing on his doorstep, Norum recognized that this was one of the loiterers who frequented the neighborhood. He felt no need to restrain his resentment toward this unwanted visitor.
"What do you want?" Pastor Norum exclaimed.
The man was startled. He was also coated with snow, his beard and eyebrows wearing a mask of ice. His dark skin stood out in marked contrast to the film of white that coated the tattered clothing which barely served as protection against the driving elements that assaulted him. He wore no hat; his unkempt hair matted with the falling snow. Although taken aback by the verbal tone of the minister, the man responded in an even measured voice.
"I was wondering if your church might have a facility for the homeless on a night like this?" he asked.
"No," Pastor Norum responded, "we're not in the hotel business."
"Well do you have a soup kitchen or any food available?" the man asked. his eyes firmly and unwaveringly locked on Norum.
"No. I'm not in the restaurant business either." Anticipating the possibility of the next request, Norum pressed on. "Nor am in the bank business either. Why don't you people get jobs and stop hustling everyone else who works for a living?"
"I am working," the man responded, "it's just not obvious to everyone what I am about."
"Well, it's obvious to me that your job isn't paying very well, otherwise you wouldn't be begging me for food, a place to stay and money. Not that it matters, but what kind of work are you supposed to be doing?" The sarcasm was not disguised.
"I'm a fruit inspector," the man responded evenly. Not put off at all by Norum's derisive disposition.
Pastor Norum couldn't help himself. "A fruit inspector!" he scoffed. "Do you want to check out my fruit trees? Your right in season!" Norum was being openly caustic now and he didn't much care.
"Yes I am in season," the man quietly responded. "And the inspection is over. I won't be intruding any longer." His eyes seemed to express a brief shadow of sadness and then he turned and walked off into the blustery night.
Pastor Norum closed the door and turned to walk back into his study to try to complete his work for the next day's sermon. The whole encounter with the man had left Norum with an unsettled feeling that was hard to pinpoint. He sat down to resume his study, the Bible still lying open on his desk, face up, where he had left it. His eyes fell on the Scripture he had been preparing when he had been interrupted. His stomach involuntarily tightened as he quickly scanned the words in front of him.
"I AM the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch that doesn't produce fruit, He cuts off. You are My friend if you love Me. But the world doesn't love Me, for they don't know God who sent Me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. They hated Me without a reason."
Pastor Norum was trying to keep his thoughts together. After all he was a pragmatic man.
That was part of the problem. Norum knew enough about the Bible to understand that even if you didn't accept every word as "inspired," there were principles of truth inherent in the stories that pertained to life. Right now there was a clarity in the events of the last few moments that cut a little close to the bone. Just to make sure he wasn't fabricating the whole thing, Norum rose from his desk and hesitantly, but briskly, walked to the door. Quickly throwing it open he looked out into the now still night. The snow had stopped and as Norum gazed up and down the street he saw nothing was moving. There was no sign of the stranger anywhere.
Writing it off as to fatigue that allowed his mind to fantasize on unfounded speculation, Norum began to close the door. As he did, he glanced down at the doorstep where the unwanted visitor had been standing. Uncomprehending, his eyes immediately swept out onto the street where the stranger had walked away just minutes before. There wasn't a footprint anywhere.
As Pastor Norum stood trying to grasp the significance of the events he was observing, two things happened. The Scripture he had read just moments before rang out in his mind like an audible voice,
"They didn't know God had sent Me....!"
And a cold wind blew across his face.
Don't miss God's "kairos," (Greek) time. His opportune, set, appointed, due, definitive, proper, seasonable moment in your life. No matter what "guise" He (it) may appear in.
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