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.