Listen closely or you’ll miss something eternally significant

By Gerre Joiner | Published Wednesday, October 28, 2015

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On any given day, a casual observer at the coffee shop might think that nothing much is going on. Two or three conversations coming your way at the same time in a group of seven or eight old men is hard on the untrained ear.

For example, Monday there were four conversations going on at the same time.

I had taken my granddaughter to Fort Worth Saturday to check out the Red Steagall Gathering in the stockyards. I brought back some really hot jerky. It was the kind of jerky that’s so hot one just can’t eat it quickly – one piece and you’re done for a while.

I brought the little sack to the coffee shop and passed it around. Bobby Wilson ate a bite and turned bright red. Jack Brooks, Roy Pierce and James Stutt liked the stuff and helped me finish the sack.

So … one conversation is about hot jerky, how it’s made and how much one can eat before suffering intestinal uncertainty.

Someone down at the other end of the group mentioned credit card fraud.

One of the guys had taken a trip, used a credit card, then had the misfortune of a restaurant server selling the number on the card.

Thirty six hours later he was notified that an $80,000 bill had been racked up. His was the best of several stories about being ripped off in this manner.

Two or three of the guys absolutely will not let anyone take their credit card out of sight. They follow the server, watch him or her swipe the card and retrieve it immediately.

I plan on being more careful with my card after hearing parts of this conversation.

A few of us discussed how to pick a lock.

One of our guys is a locksmith. He was amused as “wannabe” lock pickers reported techniques that included a rat-tail file and a cold chisel.

Almost every one of the men involved in this conversation had, at one time or another, used bolt cutters to gain access to a place through a chain-locked gate. One man had to use bolt cutters to get out after he’d been locked inside a chain-locked gate.

A friend sat down across the table from me and said, “I have someone I want you to help me pray for.”

He went on to tell of the illness of his brother-in-law, a cancer diagnosis and a concerned family needing Divine help. I told him I’d pray for his family.

Things turned quiet for some reason.

Then I mentioned to the whole group, “A few days ago, a friend of mine called a few men … and those men called a few more men … and Saturday morning about 50 people gathered in the barn of some folks who are going through a terribly rough patch. They needed prayer, love and affirmation from Baptists, Methodists, members of the Church of Christ and Pentecostals, and they received it in huge doses Saturday morning.”

The whole group gave attention as we talked about that Saturday morning prayer meeting.

We will probably forget most of what was said and done at Whataburger Monday. It’s pretty unlikely that I’ll need to pick a lock.

But I’m thinking that very few of us will soon forget our conversation about prayer and love and family and community.

Gerre Joiner is a semi-retired church musician and has lived in Decatur since 1999.

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