“Git yer hands in the air!”
It’s odd how the moments in life I should be most scared and paralyzed, are the moments I notice the most minute of details, like how the robber’s hands tremble even more than the lady sitting next to me, and how his eyes have a desperate, cornered look.
“You don’t belong here, son.” It’s the oldest trick in the book, but I play it with confidence. “This isn’t the line of work for you.”
He sneers and thrusts his bag in front of me. “Put yer wallet in here or I’ll show ya what kinda work I do best.” He waves his gun and the other folks in the train gasp. Perhaps I’m the only one who sees the terror he tries so hard to hide.
I wonder at the secrets that lie in his past. “What drove you to feel you need to find power this way, lad?”
“What are you, some kinda preacher?” He makes the mistake of looking into my eyes. I catch them and hold them.
“I’m not a preacher. You will be someday, though.”
“Are you crazy!” His voice rises. He struggles to look away. “Look at me! Jest look! I ain’t no preacher.” As though to prove his point, he stomps across the aisle and shoves a man against the wall, demanding his watch. I notice he’s picked a pale, bespeckled gentleman.
“You ever heard of a man named Saul?”
He glances at me, seemingly involuntarily. He doesn’t speak, just thrusts his bag at the next person.
I take it as an invitation to tell the story. “He was a bad man. Worse than you. He didn’t just steal things--he stole people. Killed them. Even woman and children.”
He makes the mistake of letting me catch his eye, again.
“But God had plans for him, just like He’s got for you. God called to him, a voice from heaven. Know what He said?”
“I don’t care!” The young robber’s voice comes too fast, his eyes wide. I can hear him breathing even from where I sit.
“Why do you persecute Me?”
The boy jumps.
“That’s what God said. ‘Cause everything we do, we do unto God. But God had forgiveness even for Saul. Even for you, son. The worst we can do is forgiven through the death of Jesus, God’s son.”
“Just leave me alone.” He drops the bag. Maybe he even threw it.
“I reckon God won’t do that. He loves you too much.”
“Just stop. I won’t take this. I’m leavin’ here!” He doesn’t look at us. Doesn’t look as he rushes out the train door, almost missing the steps in his rush.
“You can leave.” My voice doesn’t reach him, I know. But I speak anyway. “But He’ll find you. He’s got plans for you, boy. You’ll be a great pastor someday. I just know it.”
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