A Brush With Faith

When I was younger I lived what most people would say was a pretty sinful life.. I grew up in the 70′s and was in my 20′s in the 80′s. I was on my own.  Drugs and sex were abundant . Being mixed up about the difference between sex and love and adding in my low self esteem and bouts of depression I was lonely mess of a partying person.. Sometimes I think if it wasn’t for the pot and my strange brand of friends I would not have made it through.  But that is another story.. This sets the back drop for my story.

As with most people you have that one friend who is a “baby Christian” the person that is new to religion and is so excited they are able to pull you in with their exuberance. My friend Cindy peaked my curiosity with her religion since it was pretty evident to me life was not going as I had hoped it would and I had this empty place that nothing I did seemed to fill.

I went to church with her on Sundays and went to a few bible study classes and started going to church functions.. This was a lively active church that there was lot of uplifting music and really good singers in the congregation.. Which to me was really unusual being I was brought up in a Methodist church that still used the classic Christian songs written my the classical composers that droned on.. Not to mention people were singing that didn’t know how or want to..

Being a singer this in itself was enough to keep me interested.. People here really seemed to care about each other.  I felt a feeling of joy the moment I walked in the door.  I didn’t quite feel comfortable with the people.  I always felt kind of like an outsider to any group of people.  But I was getting caught up in it..

Most of the Church stuff occurred during the day or early evening. My other life, the dark side, I was not ready to give up yet.. I quit doing most of the drinking  but still hung out with my other friends at the bar every night.  I would go there just like I always had, only I would drink orange juice and sprite or some other non alcoholic drink.  I enjoyed the excitement of not knowing what would happen next.

One night a Guy named Tim who was a regular in the bar came in and I felt a strange overwhelming urge to talk to him about God.  Very unusual feeling since these were not God spouting people.

Tim was a biker, he sold drugs, he was partially crippled but never let it get him down.. He seemed to be well natured and smiled and laughed with most of the people there. As anyone knows if there is drugs and money there is guns.. and it was known he always had his.. His friends has a sort of respect for him..

Not known to me then, he was in intense pain everyday of his life.. I can’t recall now how it occurred but he was bent up and doctors had told him he would never walk. But he did. I heard that every step was agonizing for him, some days more than others.  I did admire his ability to still be able to get around and have so many real friends. He was different than the stereo type drug selling bikers.  Many of the girls fancied being with him. Though I wasn’t one of them.

But one night while sitting at the bar I felt a calling, needing urge, to speak to him about God.  I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I ever thought.  No way I was going to approach this man and try to discuss God with him.  So I chose to ignored the strong urge. And just went about other things though for some reason it never left the back of my mind.

My life started getting a bit more complicated I was more unhappy and lonely than before not fitting in anywhere. I was no longer drinking and still hanging out with friends that did so it didn’t feel quite right. I was also with Christians, yet went to bars and hung out with the partying crowd and heavy metal rock scene, which they were very disapproving of.  It was a strange mix.  I was having money troubles, and having no significant other was really weighing on me.. It made me lonelier than ever.

Life continued to get worse for me.. Being that I was not fitting in with the partying people as much, some started to point out my differences and those I thought were my friends were not always inviting me to the places I enjoyed going.

I didn’t talk too much about my growing Christian feelings. I only spoke of it with a few of my friends that I knew would not judge me or think me odd.. Surprisingly some of them had brushes with faith and religion themselves. All had found places in there lives to work it in..

Could be that this was what united us as friends to start with.. We never hurt anyone never judged and were always there for each other. Like an extended family of misfits that looked out for each other.

There were many weeks I refused  to talk to Tim.. Every time I seen him the urge returned.. God wanted me to tell him to pray.  I started getting the feeling that this was the reason my life seemed so chaotic at this time.. Because I would not do what I was told to do.. After all God had done lots of stuff for me..

I was one of those people that always seemed to have an angel on my shoulder in a problematic time. Here I  was telling God, or whoever was doing the urging, NO when asked to do something in return.. I just somehow knew things would not get better until I gave the message.

It just seemed too ridiculous to follow through with..  One night I was sitting with one of my more open minded friends at the bar, who like me, went there more to be with exciting people rather than to get drunk.. I told her about this crazy almost nagging urging feeling.. She and I had talked previously about this baby Christian thing.. She felt if I was being directed to do this I needed to do it..

I made the decision to go for it.. What did I have to lose a bit of ridicule. I knew I had to do it when he was away from his other friends so not to create gossip.. Going up to him in the first place was going to be different..  He went up to the Jukebox by himself and there was no one in the area. I made my move..

“Hi Tim, I know you don’t know me very well but I have something I need to tell you and it is going to sound really weird but I have to tell you”  He gave me his attention and did not seem to be rejecting me so far, inviting me to continue. “God says it’s time to phone home. He wants to talk to you.” “I know how crazy it sounds.. I won’t bother you any more..”

I had done it.  I was ready for the ridicule the ‘get out of my face’ stuff.. But instead I got acceptance. His response was not what I expected.

His face expression was not rage or shock. It was not disapproving. He told me I should not have been afraid to tell him that.  He went on to tell me that when he was younger he was very involved with the church.. He had been an alter boy when he was growing up and had a very religious back ground. That he had fallen away from it in the past few years.  The rest of the conversation is sort of a blur now (years later).  I was so amazed he was opening up and telling me this. I couldn’t picture his saying anything like this to anyone else let alone him talking to me about it.

I thanked him for not freaking out on me.. “You should never be afraid to say something you need to say”

I never approached him again about it.. We never really formally spoke again. But when ever he came into the bar he would smile at me and give me that knowing nod of our shared secret moment. I would share a smile back. That was the extent of our acquaintance.

Surprising thing was my life started getting better.  My friends in both parts of my life included me as I was. My money problems straightened out.  I felt less alone and felt good inside. The darkness had lifted.

A couple months later I felt the call again.. This time it was to get a close friend of mine to pray with me for Tim.  We were sitting in the car getting ready to go into a party. My friend was a bit stoned. I fit in nicely as a designated driver. I told her we needed to pray for Tim.. And without question we both closed our eyes and gave a silent prayer for him.. Again there was no question in what a strange thing I had suggested it was accepted and let go. She was my best friend but still it was a strange request.. But she was more associated with Tim and his pains than I was at that time.. So maybe she actually realized how much he needed the prayer..

The next week we seen him again at the bar.  As Tim walked in the bar he collapsed on the floor as he came in the door.. His legs gave out on him and many ran to his aide. He was in intense pain and they were almost afraid to try and move him . Finally they got him up and took him off somewhere  I only seen him once more the next week at the bar and everything seemed normal.

He didn’t show up at the bar for a few weeks we just  figured he was out with a different group of friends somewhere. We all would do that from time to time.. Sometimes shack up with someone and hole away or hang out with a different set of friends, but we always came back.

Tim didn’t come back..  One night I was sitting at the bar and the word came. Tim had committed suicide. He had been in increasing pain lately and had been getting really high to alleviate it.  Story goes some where out of town he took out his guns and blazed them into the air like a drunken cowboy and then put one to his head and fired.

I felt a very deep sadness about this man I barely knew, but for his reputation and our short conversation. Had this been the reason for the message? Had he heeded it? Some how I felt a bit of comfort knowing I had delivered his special message from God.  It still gives me chills thinking about it.

It was never mentioned amongst the friends that knew about ‘the message’. No more than a meeting of eyes when it was spoke of his leaving this world.

After that my life seemed to change.. I eventually fell out with the Church I had been going to when the congregation could not forgive the pastor for something he humanly said to someone at a bad time. I felt that was too hypocritical of people that were supposed to be so “religious” and believing in the teachings of Jesus. How could they not forgive him?

I walked away from that part of my life. I took with me what I had learned. I listen to the feelings to do something when guided in that direction no matter how crazy them may seem.  Sometimes that message, though it may seem odd to me, turns out not to be at all. It brings me peace

I have had other interesting brushes with faith throughout my life. But this tale ends here.

As Tim told me.. “..Never be afraid to say what you need to say”
There could be a greater reason.

Tim Alshire Rest in Peace


Have Faith …not religion

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