Tuesday, January 19, 2010

He Used to Be a Crazy Naked Guy (unedited)

It was funny how that day started out. Tom had been doing what he was used to doing. His new job was to spread the word about Jesus. This had become a passion for him. Anyone and everyone had to hear his story. Most people already knew it but he could not help but share it anyway. You see, most people had known Tom when he was known around town as “the crazy naked guy.” For years Tom and been totally out of control. They had tried chaining him up so that he would no longer hurt himself or anyone else and yet he broke out of those chains repeatedly. It was horrible to watch him whip himself with those chains until he bled. People would cover their children’s eyes and ears when they saw him anywhere near, which was rare since he tended to spend most of his time roaming among the tombs. He would wander along the cliffs and howl and shriek at the top of his lungs. The sound coming out of his mouth would make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and cause your body to be covered with goose bumps. The only thing that people knew was to give Tom his distance and to keep away. Then again, people only had to encounter him when there was a funeral and someone had to be placed in the burial caves since that’s where Tom chose to live. And this made people feel at ease most of the time.

Then, one day, his life was completely changed. Jesus showed up along the shore with his disciples and Tom had charged at him. A totally unnatural voice started to beg with Jesus and the next thing anyone knew 2000 pigs were drowning themselves in the sea. The pig farmers were more than just a little upset, and so was the whole town, since the pigs had been a very big part of the economy. When the town showed up to see 2000 bobbing pigs for themselves they were all stunned by the sight of Tom. He no longer looked crazy and he was definitely no longer naked. The people were so upset over the death of the pigs that they pleaded with Jesus to leave and some even threatened him with bodily harm. Jesus just shrugged and told his disciples to get back in the boat and they would go somewhere else. That’s when Tom approached the boat and asked if he could come. Jesus very kindly told him that he needed to stay where he was and share what had happened to him. Tom was disappointed but knew what Jesus wanted him to do so he said good-bye and waved to Jesus as he and his disciples rowed out of sight.

That’s when Tom went to work, not for money, but for God. He told everyone who would listen, and many who wouldn’t, about how he had been tormented by demons until Jesus showed up. He told the people how he used to cut himself with rocks and pottery and how he used to sleep in the tombs along side of corpses. Word began to spread about Jesus and when he returned to the region a few months later Jesus could hardly move from place to place for all of the people brought to him to heal. Tom took his job seriously and the news of the messiah being present was welcomed throughout the region.

All was going well until that day during Passover. Jesus had insisted on going back to Jerusalem and ended up dead. This devastated Tom. What would he do know? He had told all of the people that Jesus was the messiah and yet he was dead. People had seen him breath his last breathe. People had seen him laid in the tomb and the stone rolled across the mouth of it. They saw he wax seal applied to the tomb to ensure that no one messed with the body. Tom wept along with many of the people who had looked to Jesus to be the promised messiah. Then, the rumors started to circulate that people had seen Jesus alive. Somehow, a miracle had happened and it seemed as if Jesus was really alive. Tom even made a trip to Jerusalem to see the empty tomb and his heart leapt with joy. But now what? What was he going to do? What should he tell people? These were the thoughts that swam circles around the inside of his head as he made his trek back to the Decapolis.

Tom returned to his house overlooking the grave tombs. He picked up some cloth and began to sow a new tunic for one of the elders in town. This was a rich man’s clothes so the golden thread showed bright against the purple fabric. The touch of it reminded him of the softness he felt when Jesus had given him a hug and told him to stay behind and tell people what had happened to him.

Ever since that day Tom had two passions in his life. The first passion was the one he had received from Jesus, “Tell others what I have done.” The second was the way he chose to be reminded of his encounter and transformation with Jesus. Tom was a tailor. With every stitch that he sewed he was reminded of the days when he ran around naked. He would see the scars on his arms and legs where he took pottery shards and cut himself. He would remember the weight of the chains that dangled from his arms. But those days were now behind him. He had this job as a way to be daily reminded of what Jesus had done for him.

As Tom sat at his table making another tunic for one of the families in town he heard someone enter his shop. “Just a moment and I’ll be with you.” Tom continued to make uniform stitches in the hem of his garment. As he finished the last stitch her placed the needle back in its holder and turned to address this person. At first, Tom thought the man looked very familiar. There was something in the way that he held himself that caused a flashback to the old days. The days before her had become a tailor. The days when people would run away and he saw himself as though outside his own body. He saw the thing that had hidden in the deep recesses of his heart. There was the man who had changed his life. “Isn’t he dead? Am I crazy? Did I just want this so much that I am imagining this?” No, it was not his imagination. The rumors were true. Jesus was risen and was standing before him. Holes in his hands, wounds visible in his sandals, face bruised but healing and with all of these distractions he was certain it was Jesus. The final nail was struck when Jesus uttered his name. “Tom, how are you?” Was the savior really asking him how he was doing? Did he really care? Were these just words to start a conversation? Tom was pretty certain that there was sincerity in the question and positive of the fact when he looked into the dark eyes of this man who had changed his life.

Then he realized it. He knew it. His heart began to race and it seemed his tongue had swollen o the point of making conversation nearly impossible. “Lord, is it You?” he asked almost afraid of the answer. “What are you doing here?” Tom asked. “I heard the rumors but I was afraid to believe and now you are here in my shop. Where are the people? Where are the crowds? Does everyone know you are alive? Have they all changed their minds?” Jesus just held up his hand and Tom stopped asking questions. He knew that Jesus was here for a reason and he needed to shut up and listen to the words of this man who was dead and now was alive.

“Yes, Tom. It is I. Don’t You remember what I said? I told everyone that I had to die. I told everyone that they could destroy the temple and I would rebuild it in three days. So, here I am. I know I look a little worse for the wear but that’s what happens to a body that is beaten and crucified.”

“I am sorry Lord. I was just so scared. I should have believed. I have been hoping to see you. Every time someone would enter I had hoped it was you. Then I gave up hoping and just decided to do my work and remember what you had done for me. That’s why I do this, you know?”

“I know” Jesus said with a smile and look of understanding. “I knew what you would be doing. The Father told me. “It’s how you stay connected isn’t it? It’s how you are reminded with every stitch, every breath that you were redeemed. Tom I am very proud of you and all that you have done. I know how hard it was when I told you that you could not come with me but look at what you have accomplished.”

“You are right, Lord. I was crushed when you told me to go home and tell my friends and family about what you had done for me. At first they were so astonished by the transformation that they could hardly hear about the one who had made it happen. But, I was persistent. I continued to tell people about you and the truth about who you are. I was so proud when you returned and everyone wanted to see you, to touch you, to hear you teach. I knew that I had a part in it and had done what I set out to accomplish. It’s why I learned to be a tailor, so I could remember what you did for me. Then it became so hard. Every time the needle pierced the fabric I thought about the way the soldier’s spear had pierced your side. I have shed a few tears as I hemmed a tunic. But now that you are here I remember all you said. You are the anointed one! You are the messiah! But why are you here? Why have you come to see me? Is there something I need to do?

“I am glad you asked,” Jesus replied. “I do have a few things I need to tell you. The first thing is thank you. Thank you for following what I told you to do. Thank you for the zealous pursuit of my charge to you. Thank you for all of the people who believe in me because of you and your faith. Next, I want to tell you to keep up your work as a tailor. Your witness to the transformation of your life speaks volumes to others. You were once naked and exposed, wandering and lost. Now you are clothed, in your right mind, and have direction in your life. Share that with others. Lastly, I want you to continue to tell others about me. Share me in your work. Share me with your family. Share me with your community. Share me with the stranger that stops in your shop and knows little or nothing of me. You have a gift and I promise you that the Father in heaven sees it and will reward you greatly.

Jesus then walked closer to Tom and wrapped his arms around him. Tom had never felt so strong and helpless at the same time. He felt the love of the Lord invade his body and it filled him from the bottom to the top as his eyes overflowed with the love imputed in that hug. “I love you and will always be with you,” Jesus said as he turned toward the door.

“I love you too, Lord,” Tom said as Jesus walked through the doorway. “Thanks for everything. I will do my best to complete the task you have set before me. Bye for now.”

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