“…I could really use an honest Christian trucker.”
Published on: 04-29-2021
As he listened to the request, he thumbed through his appointment calendar. The caller was a very good friend, and it would be good to spend a week with him at the school where he was principal. But the calendar was already full—too full for adding an entire week of sermons at a distant boarding academy.
“Ken, I know you’re busy, but God keeps bringing me back to you. I feel He wants you to accept speaking for our Week of Prayer this spring. Our kids need to hear about God straight from your heart.”
The appeal was compelling, and by moving three committee meetings he could accept the invitation. Though he knew other things would come up, he wrote the appointment in ink and told his friend to plan on it. Now he had to tell his wife and prepare 12 new sermons.
Academy Weeks of Prayer were his most difficult assignments. It was like riding a bucking bronco for the first time. Anything could happen. He chose to talk about God’s character. “God loves you,” he scribbled on the first page. “Everything else is secondary.”
The sermons came together slowly, mostly retelling Bible stories as ways to get to know God. Some stories about girls and women, others about men. Priests, soldiers, judges, winners, and losers. Real people who stumbled and fell. Failures who felt God’s loving arms embracing them. Sinners who heard God speak forgiveness. Examples of what God would like to do for the students who would be listening from their assigned chapel seats.
He prayed much about the week. During committee meetings; at lunch; with his wife; often.
* * *
The first meeting was the hardest. It’s good to be a friend of the principal, but not too close of a friend if he wanted the students to trust him. He was too old to play sports with the kids, so he would have to trust conversations over meals, around campus, in the dorm lobbies, and after classes.
He prayed constantly and spoke carefully. They listened, relaxed, and responded warmly.
Thursday evening he made a call, an invitation for each student to “give your heart to Jesus, accept His love, and rejoice in His forgiveness.” Conversations after the service consumed a whole box of tissues.
He was in the lobby of the boys dormitory, about ready to retreat to his guest room, when Mike asked for a minute of his time. The principal had told him about this fellow. “Mike’s a senior this year. A troublemaker. We’re sure he’s into something bad, but we’ve never been able to catch him.”
“Sure,” he said to Mike, praying for God to clear his exhausted mind.
“Tonight, when you asked if I wanted to give my heart to God, I really felt uncomfortable.”
There was a long pause as Mike searched for the right words.
“I want to do that, but before I can, there are some things I need to get fixed. I mean, I’ve done some things that are really bad and will be tough to fix.”
He continued to listen, silently, unwilling to break the tension that was building in Mike’s heart.
“Can I tell you a story?” Mike asked.
“Sure,” Pastor Ken responded.
“I live on a big ranch where we’ve got lots of heavy equipment, big trucks, tractors, harvesters, and stuff. Dad has let me drive for years. Most of them I can drive as well as Dad and the hired men. I miss that here at school.”
Mike leaned forward in the large lobby chair, wringing his hands like he was roping a steer.
“There’s a guy, a couple miles from the academy. This man has a gravel pit and tons of heavy equipment. Huge dump trucks, graders, haulers, excavators, bucket loaders. You know, all the trucks you’d need to run a gravel company.”
The memories were flooding Mike’s eyes.
“Well, one night I got out of the dorm and went to his business, broke through the fence, and hot-wired one of his big trucks. I drove that thing up and down through the pit and up over all the tall piles. On one of the tallest gravel hills I lost it. Not a lot, you know, but just enough that before I could shift gears, the tractor sideslipped, lost balance, tipped on its side, and skidded down the pile.”
Mike looked deeply into the pastor’s horrified face.
“I know. I was terrified too. I wasn’t hurt, so I slid out and found another tractor, one that had a winch, and I used that one to pull the first truck back up onto its wheels. Then I cleaned both of ’em up as best I could and parked ’em back where they’d been.”
“Then back to the dorm?”
“Yes. And I’ve never said anything to anyone about it. Never. Not at all. But now I know I need to go over to the gravel pit and tell the owner what I did and pay for the damage. Will you go with me tomorrow?”
* * *
Friday morning Pastor Ken listened as Mike told the story to the owner of the gravel business, praying quietly as the man grew angrier and angrier, finally erupting in a flow of fury.
“You stole one of my trucks and then wrecked it! Now you’re coming over here expecting that everything will be all good because you’re suddenly sorry?”
The owner took a long noisy breath. “Why are you doing this, anyway?”
“Last night when I decided to give my life to Jesus Christ and ask Him to be my personal Savior, I knew I had to come over here and make things right with you as part of accepting Jesus. I am very sorry, sir, and I’ll care for all the costs.”
The owner sank slowly back into his chair, eyes fixed on Mike.
“Really,” he said, carefully considering his next words. “You know that I never would have figured out what happened to that truck. But you’re here to confess and to pay damages. How about that. An honest man. Tell you what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna offer you a job as one of my drivers. I could really use an honest Christian trucker.”