It was both sign and story. No angels sang but a few impatient cars honked. It happened on the same day the BELIEVE sign welcomed shoppers, during this season of mixed messages and blessings.
As for the sign, it stood outside the J Jill store. At about five feet in height and wrapped in greenery, it announced JO to the world. I don’t know it someone stole the Y and robbed onlookers of JOY. Or perhaps, it was all about JO, who tired of being average. Whatever the reason, I took it for what it was, a sign and a story.
Actually, the better story belongs to Tony Campolo, which I read the day before in, More Stories from the Heart. The story’s about JOE, not JO, however. As the story goes, Joe was a wino, a drunk, a hopeless sort until he met Jesus. He was converted. Whatever you call it, he was a different man. Changed from the inside out. It happened at a Bowery mission in New York.
Well, after Joe turned around, Tony said that he became known as helpful, not hopeless. Joe cared. He cleaned up the vomit of others, scrubbed toilets, fed ones too feeble to feed themselves. “Joe did what was asked with a smile on his face, and a seeming gratitude for the chance to help.”
Tony wrote, “One evening, when the director of the mission shared an evangelistic message to the usual crowd of sullen men with drooped heads, something unusual happened. One man looked up, came down the aisle to the altar and knelt to pray, crying out to God to help him change. ”
For sure, there’s nothing unusual about the story so far. Many of you, like I, know what it’s like to come to a fork in the road, or down some aisle, kneel and ask God to forgive and help us change. But what was different about this man, he kept shouting, “Oh, God! Make me like Joe! Make me like Joe!”
After a while, ” the mission director leaned over and said to the man, ‘Son, I think it would be better if you prayed, ‘Make me like Jesus.’ The man looked up at the director with a quizzical expression on his face and asked, ‘Is he like Joe?’ “
Signs and wonders still happen. We’re wise to keep close watch. Sometimes God shows up in JO to remind us something’s missing. And sometimes through a not so average JOE.
JOY to the world, the Lord has come.
Just ask Joe.
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