A collection of down-home stories of personal experiences and parables that reflect on Christian life and help you find the joy and humor in living while exploring life's hidden meanings.
"Randall O'Brien's collection of short stories is lighthearted fun with a punch. Relax, and get ready to enjoy his illustrations of timeless truth." --Anne Graham Lotz, Writer, speaker, daughter of Dr. Billy Graham
I Feel Better All Over Than I Do Anywhere Else
An excerpt from the book by Randall O'Brien
Have you ever noticed how Jesus loved to play with our heads? I mean some of the things he said just didn't make sense. For instance, "He who saves his live will lose it; he who loses his life will save it." Or, "The first shall be last; the last shall be first. And "If you wish to become great, become a servant." Or how about, "Happy are those who mourn." Or, "Seeing, they do not see; hearing, they do not hear." And especially this one: "You must be born again."
Folks must have thought him weird. Of course, Jesus was employing paradox to tease us into deeper thought, wasn't he? As the seed of truth germinates within us, watered with the waters of reflection, new spiritual growth might break forth through our crusty souls . . . maybe anyway, perhaps.
Well, methinks God is up to His old tricks again. Into my life from nowhere comes a strange new friend. Known to our family affectionately as "Possum," "Armadillo," or even "Armapossum," believe me, this Possum's different. Lives Alone. Never married. Mows lawns and rakes leaves for a living. That's not what makes him different. You have to hear him talk to understand. Some say he's crazy. Others say he's been in the sun too long. I say he's a national treasure.
One of the first questions Armapossum asked me when we met was, "Is it further to New York City or by bus?" Say what? I'm still working on that one. Then my new friend wanted to know, "Is it hotter in the summer or in the city?" Now, how do you answer that without hurting the man's feelings?
Possum and I get along. Lately, he's been showing up on Sunday nights at the church where I've been preaching. The other night after church we went to get a sandwich and a root beer. He opened up. "I feel more like I do now than I did awhile ago," he shared. I understood.
I confess, some of Armaposssum's revelations take me a little longer. For instance, "Thirty days hath September, April, June, and No Wonder. All the rest eat peanut butter, 'cept Grandma, and she drives a Buick." Hey, gimme time on that one. Once Armadillo came to our home, knocked on the door, and greeted me with this one: "Do you live here, or do you ride a bicycle?" He just wanted to know, I guess.
Possum doesn't want much. Something to eat, roof over his head, a friend is that too much to ask? Here lately he's begun to tell me more. He's always wanted to be a deacon. Always wanted a wife. Always wanted to sing a solo in church for God. Some things I can help with; some things I can't. Besides, Armapossum is rigid with fear. Still I try.
"Maybe I can help," I allowed. "Now Reverend, you can lead a horse to water, but before you push him in you'd better think how bad a wet horse smells." "Possum," I related, "it's your call, but if you wanna sing before I preach Sunday night, you can. It's up to you, but I'd like it if you would."
Sunday night came. Armadillo came. Time to sing came. I introduced our guest soloist seated on the back row. Possum froze. Like his nickname's sake, we're talking full body freeze! No pulse. So we rescheduled. When that Sunday arrived, the phone rang. You guessed it: cancellation, again.
Third time's a charm. Are you sitting down? You won't believe it. Guess who just sang "How Great Thou Art" before God and everybody? He did it! He did it! Hallelujah! Possum did it! Like rain falling upon flowers, so his words rained upon our hearts. Innocence and beauty kissed. With Jesus-like wonder, spring decorated our souls. We smiled. We cried. We laughed. We applauded. We repented. We grew.
After everyone had gone, the church building fell silent, dark. Armadillo and I stood outside in the night as families drove away singing. I turned to God's anointed and asked, "Well, how do you feel?" Grinning like a possum eating sawbriars, my friend cried, "I feel better all over than I do anywhere else." . . . You know? So do I.