Aaron the Bus Driver

Story of the Day for Thursday May 3, 2012

Aaron the Bus Driver

                 When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him by the death of his Son. 

                                                        Romans 5:10

 

Chuck Swindoll tells the story of a man he calls Aaron.

Aaron lived in the Chicago area and prayed that the Lord might give him a significant ministry. He wanted to serve in a Christian organization or on a church staff, but nothing turned up.

After weeks of praying and searching, he found nothing, so he resigned himself to finding any job he could, and began driving bus in southside Chicago.

Aaron’s route took him through a dangerous section of the city. Gangs would board the bus and refuse to pay. They would taunt him as well as the other passengers.

This went on for several days. Finally, Aaron spotted a police officer standing at a bus stop. He reported the gang members and the policeman made them all pay their fare.

But then the policeman got off the bus, and the gang members stayed on.  After the bus was out of sight of the policeman, they assaulted Aaron.

 

When Aaron regained consciousness, there was blood all over his shirt. Two teeth were missing, his eyes were swollen, his money was gone, and the bus was empty.

As Aaron recuperated at home from his injuries, his resentment against God began to build. He was willing to serve God in ministry. He prayed for an opportunity to serve, and this is how God thanks him for his willingness and dedication?

 

On Monday, Aaron pressed charges, and with assistance from the police and eyewitnesses, the gang members were rounded up and arrested.

At the hearing, Aaron walked into the courtroom with his attorney, and the thugs glared at him.

When the gang members pleaded guilty to the charges, however, Aaron stood up and asked for permission to speak. “Your honor, I would like you to total up all the days of punishment against these men . . .” Then he continued, “And I request that you allow me to go to jail in their place.”

The judge was stunned. Both attorneys were stunned. But, most of all, the gang members looked at him with wide-eyed amazement.

The judge ruled him out of order and told Aaron that this sort of thing had never been done before.

“Oh, yes, it has, your honor . . . yes, it has. It happened over nineteen centuries ago when a man from Galilee paid the penalty that all mankind deserved. “

Aaron went on to speak how Jesus died for our sins to bring his love and forgiveness to everyone.

 

The judge denied Aaron’s request. But Aaron visited his attackers in jail. Most of them became Christians. And, so he began the significant ministry he had prayed for, in the tough neighborhoods of southside Chicago.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)


Jesus’ View of Status

Story of the Day for Wednesday May 2, 2012

Jesus’ View on Status

                   Jesus told them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me welcomes the One who sent me. For the least one among you is the greatest.”
Matthew 25:40

The murmurs of anticipation began to increase in this year’s NFL draft as the Baltimore Colts were on the clock to make their pick. They surprised everyone by picking a quarterback.

I’m not talking about the Colt’s number one pick of quarterback Andrew Luck; the place was buzzing over the last pick in the draft: Chandler Harnish from Northern Illinois. By being selected dead last in the draft, Chandler captured the dubious honor of being named “Mr. Irrelevant.”

For the last twenty years, the final pick in the draft has been announced by Paul Salata, a white-haired man in his mid-eighties. He invented the Mr. Irrelevant award thirty-seven years ago — not to honor the first, but the last player picked in the NFL draft.

Chandler Harnish will hold news conferences and be showered with gifts. One bank will give him one day’s interest on a million dollars so he can feel like a millionaire for a day. He’ll get a jersey from every team in the NFL just in case he, um, gets traded to another team.

Harnish will be flown to Newport Beach, California, where they’ll throw beach parties, parades, and regattas in his honor. Then Disneyland. He will drag the infield during an Anaheim Angel’s baseball game (they won’t let him throw out the first pitch because that would make him relevant). After a banquet held in his honor he will receive his award. Instead of the Heisman, he’ll get the Lowsman trophy — a statue of a football player with a clueless stare as he’s fumbling the football.

Some think the hoopla surrounding the Mr. Irrelevant award is stupid. Even more consider it insensitive. But I think Paul Salata’s brainchild is genius. He reminds us of a teaching of Jesus that we easily forget.

In society, we honor and award the highest achievers, and why not?

But love can’t be won by achievement. Ask a mother if she loves her newborn baby less because it hasn’t yet won a spelling bee or hit the winning home run in little league. God doesn’t love us because we’re better than others; God loves us because we’re there.

Jesus gravitated toward society’s losers. He takes all our rankings according to status and tips them upside down. When it comes to learning acceptance and love, it may take us a while to wallow through the confusion and realize the least are the greatest.

Paul Salata knows what it’s like to be overshadowed by greatness. He played for the 49ers and the Colts, but didn’t amount to much. Salata went on to become an actor. He appeared in movies such as “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Ten Commandments,” but his roles were so unimportant he’s not even listed in the credits.

The public may see Mr. Irrelevant Week as a lot of overblown silliness. Yet, Salata has used donations for the event to quietly give over a million dollars to those who are “irrelevant”: Goodwill, Marines at Camp Pendleton, and disabled athletes needing artificial limbs.

Whenever anyone reminds me about Jesus’ view on status, I find it intensely relevant.

                                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

The Best Bad Call

Story of the Day for Tuesday May 1, 2012

The Best Bad Call

                                If your adversary is hungry, give him something to eat.
Romans 12:20

The decision of the umpires was later found to be in error, but I’m so happy that they got it wrong.

Central Washington University was hosting Western Oregon University in 2008 in the last game of the season. The winner would earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament in Division II woman’s softball.

Western Oregon sent Sara Tucholsky to the plate. With two runners on base she hit a home run – the first one of her career. She was so jubilant that she forgot to step on first base. Realizing her mistake, she spun around so quickly that she tore her ACL in her knee.  As she lay writhing in pain, her teammates were helpless. If they touched her, that would constitute assisting a base runner and she would be called out.

After conferring on the rules, an umpire told Western Oregon’s head coach, Pam Knox, that a pinch runner could come in for her, but it would be credited as a single, and her home run would be taken away.

It broke the coach’s heart to erase the only home run of Sara’s career, but she was clearly unable to tag the bases on her own.

At that moment, however, Mallory Holtman, the star player for the opposing team ran up to an umpire and asked, “Would it be okay if we carried her around and she touched each bag?” The ump shrugged and said there was no rule against it.

So, Holtman, and her teammate, Liz Wallace, gingerly picked her up and started walking her around the bases. When they came to a base, they would gently lower her good leg and tap the base with Sara’s foot.

As the three girls rounded the bases, the crowd gave them all a standing ovation.

This caring act for their opponent ended up costing Mallory and Liz’s team the game – ending their hopes of getting into the tournament. But no one seemed to care.

Mallory Holtman viewed Sara Tucholsky as her opponent . . . until she was overcome by compassion for her need.

We are so easily angered by the behavior of our enemies. But what if we focused more on their hurts. Their needs. What if, when we noticed how hungry they were, we gave them some of our food?

The NCAA later said the umpire’s ruling was in error. A substitute could have run the bases and Sara would’ve been awarded a home run.

I’m so glad, however, that the umpire got it wrong. Far more important than a correct ruling was what happened to our hearts when two brave women helped their opponent when she was hurting.
                                           (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)