Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Bob and I happened to show up for coffee at the same time every morning. He sold used cars. Along with other locals, we had enjoyed this routine for over a decade. Another of the dozen or so who gathered for the day's caffeine jump-start was Ken. He was a moody man in his late 40s. Everyone knew everyone and we regularly Howdy and How are ya'd one another. The coffee version of Cheers is duplicated across America as an important thread of society.

One morning grouchy Ken announced for all to hear, as Bob I were perched to his far right at the end of the counter, There are two kinds of people I can't stand: car salesmen and preachers. Whoops! I may be slow, but I think I just got busted. I looked at Bob and whispered, That's the first time I've ever heard that. How about you?, and we both smiled. I had studied Ken for some time. I really liked the man, but he seemed to live on irritability's edge.

A few days later we were the only two in for coffee; Ken sitting in the center of the row along the counter and me at my usual residence at the end of the horseshoe. It occurred to me what was eating at him. His misery dangled from his sleeves. As I moved over beside him, he muttered some acknowledgement of my presence. I said, Ken, I know what's wrong with you. Oh, yeah? What? I've figured it out. You are afraid to die. There was slight pause and then, covering his face with both hands, Ken gushed into tears. He bawled like a baby.

Ken poured out his heart informing me of severe heart abnormalities and, indeed, he was scared. We had a lengthy conversation as I assured him I understood. He simply needed someone to listen; whether it be a car salesman or a preacher. Two weeks later a sixteen year old boy called my house. Are you Mr. Rush? inquired the young man. Yes. Well, I'm calling because my dad's name is Ken and he just died of a heart attack. The other day he came home from coffee and told my mom that if anything ever happened to him, he met this preacher at the coffee shop that he really liked and he wanted to do his funeral. Would you help us? I gladly assisted the family and officiated at Ken's funeral.

Each of us possesses embedded fears. Most revolve around impending death. Everyone needs someone to care. Advice may not be sought as much as a compassionate ear. We live in wonderful; yet, complex times. Ultimately, even the most boisterous against their perception of religion are afraid to die. Unfortunately, they've sawed off all the God-limbs. Ken wasn't mistaken. Car salesmen and preachers are an odd sort. But don't let us keep you from researching the authentic hope found in the man named Jesus. We men may mislead. He can be trusted.


Brenda said...

That is such a touching story Terry.

"Ultimately, even the most boisterous against their perception of religion are afraid to die"

I think this statement is so true. Yet, I think that there are some that are so deeply embeded in their faith that are also afraid to die.
I rememeber laying in the bed with my grandmother before she passed away. She hadn't had strength for days, didn't say much, and just laid there waiting to take her last breath.
Just before that moment came, she said two words, "I'm afraid". That has pierced my heart forever. What was she so afraid of? What could she see or know that we didn't?
A woman who loved God, who did right, who loved all,...what was she so afraid of?
I believe it was the unknown. I beleive she knew that God was there on the other side. But she was still afraid.

I can't say that I don't live with that same fear. In my profession, as I watch people go into eternity, I think about this often. Daily. Especially at work. What's on their minds, Do they know, are they scared...most of the time, the answer is yes.

God tells us to not be afraid...and I'm not afraid of my eternity with him, but my human-ness is so real to me. My fears are real to me. I'm a very strong woman and I know that one, or later in life, I will rest in the arms of my God and Savior, but I would be lying if I said there wasn't a part of me that fears that day.
Fortuantly, I have a God that completly understands all my fears.

Greg said...

You have so many stories of where you were not only in the right place at the right time, but you are always willing to be there for people. Thanks for sharing this story. Great way to start my day, as I don't drink coffee.

Marcy M. said...

I was very touched by your blog today.

Thank you for your invitation and for your faith in me.

Greg said...

I remembered after posting my earlier comment about a police dispatcher in Florida who was about as mean-spirited and grouchy as they come ... never wanted anything to do with me, the department chaplain. But in his final moments of life, he called for the chaplain to come and talk with him. I was honored to do so, though he died a bitter man.

Liz Moore said...

God has such a knack for putting you in just the right place at just the right time. I am so blessed to know you and to get to hear those stories. May God continue to bless you with those situations as you continue to be such a great blessing to those around you. love you!