Dear Reading Friends, there is a purpose in everything. That’s what we learn from God’s Word, when we discover that our Mighty God is in complete control! Here’s a short story about God’s hand in the worst of circumstances. Do you use your challenges for God’s glory?—David Telbat
A Purpose in Everything
by D.I. Telbat
Fifty-year-old Vince Edger gripped one lever and swung the giant crane neck over the warehouse dock. He turned a nob and locked the cable in place, then turned off the engine. Another work day was finished as a crane operator on the Louisiana docks, and Vince couldn’t wait to get home and drown his sorrows in a bottle of alcohol.
Although he was eager to enter the fog and bliss of that evening’s drunkenness, he sat back in the seat of the crane’s cab and closed his eyes. A month had passed since the accident, when the cable had broken and his co-worker, Steven Bruner, had been killed. Only a month? It seemed like ten years. The horror of the accident still weighed heavily on his heart and mind.
Accident? He still remembered the guilt he’d felt afterward, and ever since. The boss had tried to convince him that the cable had been frayed, that it wasn’t the operator’s fault, but Vince wasn’t hearing it. He’d been the crane operator that rainy morning. That made him responsible for Steven’s death.
Vince was a widower, and now with the blemish of Steven’s death on his conscience, he didn’t see the value in continuing to live. Sure, his co-workers had been supportive, but they didn’t understand the stain he now felt on his life. He hadn’t even gone to Steven’s funeral. How could he ever face the man’s wife or kids? No, Vince thought, men like himself were better off not making appearances—or even living.
He groaned as he hoisted himself out of the cab and down the ladder to the dock below. His knees were bad from playing sports in college, and his back was acting up from years in the crane’s seat. With so many aches and pains and misery, he didn’t see how he was contributing to the world any longer. Maybe he never had.
Several other workers, men he’d once called his friends, waved goodbye to him, but Vince ignored them. A bottle was all he wanted to feel in his hand, and the burn of booze down his throat. Away with the pain; maybe away with everything. He’d thought about it before, especially the day after Steven’s death. Maybe he would really end it all. There were ways . . .
The boss whistled at him from the control tower.
“Hey, Vince! Wendy’s been bothering me about having you come over for dinner. How about tonight?”
“Not tonight, Sheridan,” Vince said quietly, not caring if the man heard his response or not.
Out in the parking lot, Vince walked with his head down, hoping no one else tried to talk to him or invite him anywhere. He wasn’t in the mood. He’d never be in the mood ever again. Steven was dead. No one’s pity would fix that.
He arrived at his truck and froze. All the blood in his face felt like it had drained to his feet, and his legs were too heavy to move. Megan, Steven’s wife, was leaning against his truck. She was in her forties. A young child was in one arm, and Vince knew it was a grandchild from Steven’s oldest son.
Vince looked around. How was he supposed to get home and drown himself in a bottle if the widow was crowding his truck? This was horrible! What did she want with him?
She stepped away from the truck, offering him a smile, but Vince turned to the side, hoping to escape across the lot. Maybe he could take a cab.
“Vince!” she called, and walked toward him. “Vince, don’t you walk away from me!”
He hadn’t gotten far, even though he wanted to. Lowering his head, he turned back toward her, his eyes on the ground.
“I’m sorry, Megan. I didn’t know you were out here.”
“Oh, I know it.” She stood in front of him, the child on her hip. “You’ve been ignoring my calls. You didn’t even come to the funeral. This was the only place where I figured you couldn’t escape me. Your knees are too bad to escape me, right? I know you too well, remember?”
“Yeah.” He still didn’t look up. “You know me.”
“Sheridan says you’ve been avoiding everyone. How long is this going to go on? You think I blame you? Look at me!”
It seemed a million miles to bring his eyes from the ground up to her face. The instant he saw that she’d been crying, he wanted to look away, but her own fierceness held him captive.
“You think Steven would want you acting like this? You and Steven were friends, weren’t you? Now what are you doing about it? How many times did he invite you to a church service? Now look at us. He’s gone and you’re still avoiding the real problem?”
“The real problem?” He frowned. “What are you talking about? I’m the problem.”
“You’re not the problem, Vince. Your guilt is the problem. Listen to me.” She stepped even closer, looking up at him. He wanted to back away, but she raised her free hand to rest it on his chest. “I don’t blame you. I lost my husband, yes. And you were there that day, yes. I’m glad you were there, and I’m glad that you care. But it wasn’t your fault, Vince. Even if it was—even if it was your responsibility to check the cable, which it wasn’t—I’d forgive you. You know why?”
He realized he was shaking his head, but he couldn’t see her clearly through his tears.
“Why? Why?” he moaned.
“You need to come over right now. My son and his family are living at the house now, thinking they’re taking care of me, but God’s been using Steven’s death for another purpose.”
“A purpose?” Vince gasped. “What purpose could God have? Not that I even believe in Him.”
“He’s letting me reach out to people who would otherwise not listen to what I have to say. I’m a widow now. You have to listen.”
“I don’t understand.” Vince wasn’t sure how she was doing it, but his feelings of self-pity were giving way to feelings of need. “What do you have to say?”
“To you?” She shrugged. “Maybe I need to tell you that you’re still loved, that God hasn’t forgotten about you, even if you’ve been running from Him your whole life. I’ll tell you more, but you need to come over for dinner. My daughter-in-law is cooking, and she makes a mean casserole. Come on, Vince. I already lost my husband. Are you going to leave me, too?”
“No. No, I’m not going to leave you.” Vince suddenly felt ashamed that he’d been thinking about ending it all just moments earlier. What was happening to him? “I’ll follow you in my truck.”
“Okay. See you in a bit.” She gave him a half-hug with her free arm, then turned to her own car.
Vince watched her belt the child into a car seat. He was in awe of the woman who was holding no grudge against him. For a month, he’d felt trapped by an event he could never take back. Now, in a moment of time, he felt liberated by this widow. Maybe there was something to all Steven’s Bible talk, which he and the other dock workers had always laughed about.
But this was no laughing matter, Vince thought as he climbed into his truck. He didn’t think he’d ever tell anyone, but that widow had just saved his life!
Pulling out of the parking lot, Vince followed Megan’s car. Something was happening to him, deep inside where he’d been neglecting himself. He sensed his life was about to change forever. It was God, he thought, and he wept at the prospect of finding out more. He realized he was loved after all, just like she’d said!
You can read many more short stories here.
NOTE: Thanks so much for many of you sending your kind thoughts and encouragements recently to David and me! We appreciate all of you, his readers, subscribers, and fans! 🙂
Prayer Prompt: From time to time we receive emails from readers who live far away, and we get to know them just a little bit. We’ve had the honor of “meeting” a brother and sister from India a couple of years ago, Pastor Babu and wife Sara. He just wrote an urgent prayer request for his people, some who have lost everything. I share an excerpt of his email so you might join us in prayer for this dire need. They’ve been without power for a time and an opportunity just opened for him to write and ask for prayer and help.
“Suffering situation happening with the heavy rains and floods in these villages especially the river island regions and all the agricultural fields submerged and people do not have work in the fields and have no daily food and are suffering much. Please pray and share this dire suffering with the saints.”
Pastor Babu says many in their fellowship are suffering as well, including children and widows, some who are starving. They have a church website on which you can see who they are, suvarthavani.org. Please join us in prayer for these brothers and sisters in India.