A Book by Its Cover
Who? "photographer" What? "tattoos" Where? "Texas"

 Janelle is sitting in an unnamed coffee shop along a stretch of highway in Texas eating breakfast. She is out in the wilderness of Texas in order to complete her final exam for her photography degree. She wants to get photos of the native wildlife and natural scenery of the Texas landscape. So far, the only wildlife she has come across was battling the fleas in the mattress of the motel that she slept in last night.

She hears the loud engine of a motorcycle pulling up in front of the small coffee shop. A tall man enters the shop wearing a leather vest on top of a T-shirt, he had on black leather pants and a bandanna that was typical of bikers. His arms were covered in tattoos. Janelle looked away from the man in fear. She had heard many stories about bikers in the small town that she grew up in and even more on the university campus.

The man sits at the counter and orders a coffee. He makes small talkwith the proprietor. Janelle quickly finishes her meal and gets in her car and heads out into the Texas wilderness.

Janelle finds a spot to park along this unnamed road and ventures out. She is having some luck this time. The scenery that she is able to photograph is wonderful. She was also able to get some pictures of snakes and reptiles. The snake was a scary picture to take. She didn't know it was there until she heard the rattles. So she quickly snapped the picture and backed away. She starts heading back to her car thinking to find somewhere to take a nap and come back at nightfall to try and get pictures of the nocturnal creatures.

Janelle is looking through her camera at the pictures as she iswalking. She is also thinking about what she might find here at night when she returns. She is not watching where she is walking and her foot catches on some loose rocks and she takes a tumble. The last thing she remembers is a sharp pain in her head as everything goes black.

Janelle wakes up with a major headache. She is able to see that it is now dark outside and she can see a flickering light coming from somewhere close by. She is also covered by what appears to be a blanket. She tries to sit up, but a sharp pain in her head and her left leg stops her. She lets out a gasp as the pain hits.

“Do not try to sit up just yet. You hit your head when you fell and I’m sure it is throbbing right now. You also injured your left leg, though I do not know how serious it is.” A deep male voice says.

She turns her head towards the flickering light, which she can now see is a campfire. All she can see of the man next to the fire is an arm that is covered in tattoos. She gasps again as fear begins to well up within her. She tries to get up again, but the pain puts her right back down on the ground.

“Don’t worry, I will not harm you.” The man says.

She was about to ask why she should believe him when she gets a better look at on of the tattoos on his forearm. It is a cross with a banner above it that reads, 'John 3:16.' She begins to look at the other tattoos that she can see, including one that depicts Noah’s Ark, and she notices that every one depicts a biblical concept.

“My name is Paul.” He says.

“I am Janelle, Why didn’t you call for help for me?” She asks, still suspicious of her benefactor.

“There is no cell phone reception in these parts, and I could not have left you alone here at night. The fire is here for more than just warmth.” He responds.

A howl breaks the silence of the night as if it was waiting to confirm what Paul had said.

“What was that?” Janelle asks.

“Coyotes, this is their territory at night.” He answered.

Janelle began to feel fear rising up within her again. She was suddenly very thankful that Paul was here, even if she did not trust him.

“They will most likely stay away from the fire.” Paul adds.

She just nodded her head weakly and continued to stare at the tattoos that she was able to see.

“They are all cover ups.” Paul says.

“What?”

“My tattoos that you see now are covering up old tattoos. They are covering the ones that I had from another life. You would have been very justified to be afraid of me back then. I most likely would have done everything that you fear now that I would do. I was a completely different person then.”

“What is the difference now?” Janelle asks.

“A situation happened to me very similar to this one. I do not believe that you are anything close to what I was though. Think about the negative things that most people attribute to bikers, I was all of it. I was a heavy drinker, into drugs, used and abused women for my own pleasure. Did whatever I wanted to and took whatever I wanted. Most bikers are not like those gangs you see depicted in movies, but I was.”

“So what happened?” Janelle asks.

“One night, I went out to really party hard. I was taking whatever was put in front of me. To be honest, I do not remember much of what I did, but it could not have been good things to do. I was riding and I was so messed up that I could not walk straight much less ride.”

Janelle noticed a far away look in Paul’s eyes as he was telling his tale. There was sadness and shame in his eyes and in his countenance. It seemed that telling of himself in those days was painful for him.

“The next thing that I remember after getting on my bike was waking up in a bed and not really being able to move.” Paul continued, “My leg was in a splint and I felt as if I was hit by a truck. Every part of my body was hurting. I was in a small cabin somewhere. I could hear a man talking, though he was not talking to me.”

Paul pauses for a moment and there is a faraway look in his eyes as if he is actually seeing the scene being played out in front of him.

“I turned my head, a painful thing to do, and saw an older man kneeling down by the fireplace. The man was praying. My senses started to focus and I realized that he was praying for me! I had no idea what had happened to me but for some reason I felt a heated anger come over me. I did not know who this man was or what his deal was, but I was determined to stop it.”

Paul shakes his head as he continues, “I was so blind back then. I bellowed at the man and made some ridiculous demands that I know I was in no position to back up at the moment. I threatened him with bodily harm, told him to give me all of his money, and let me get back on my bike and get back on the road. He was so patient and kind with me. He told me that he would give me all the things that I had asked, but I was in no condition to ride, and told me that my bike was a twisted mass of metal.”

“To add to the stupid things that I had already done, I tried to get up and go after him. I did not get very far and landed on the floor and promptly passed out. I woke up sometime later and heard the man praying again. This time I listened to what he was saying. He was praying for me to be healed.”

“I asked him why I needed healing. He told me that there was a severe storm that came when I was out riding and must have been the cause of my crash. The storm knocked out the phone lines or he would have called an ambulance for me. He took me into his cabin which is not far from the crash site, but he did not believe that it would have been good to try and take me to a hospital in his little car.”

“His name was Michael and he talked to me while he helped me to rest while we waited for the phone to come back up or for me to get well enough for him to take me to the hospital. He told me about his life and something that drastically changed his life, faith in Jesus. I laughed when he told me about it, but he smiled in the face of my mockery. He then started to tell me things about me! The void in my life that I am always trying to fill, how all the things that I do never seem to satisfy. He told me of how he was the same, nothing satisfied his life, until then. He told me how about the reason that Jesus died on the cross for my sake, and about God's love for me.”

“The phone lines were repaired shortly after his speech, and he called an ambulance to come and get me. I went to the hospital and the doctors were telling me that I should be dead. I had broken my leg in such a way the an artery was severed, three broken ribs that had punctured my lung, and to top it off a fractured skull.”

“I had been at the mans cabin for two days, the doctors said I should have not been able to last more than two hours. They patched me up and told me that I was lucky to be alive. Michael came to visit me during my week long stay at the hospital. He was waiting for me the day that I was released and asked me if I had someone to pick me up. I did not have anyone to come get me nor did I have a place to go. So he brought me back to his cabin. We get there and I see something that I was not expecting, my bike. It was not a twisted piece of metal, but was in the process of being repaired. Michael was repairing it.”

“My time in the hospital and with Michael got me to thinking on my own life and where it was heading. I should have been dead that night, but Michael was there to help me when I needed it. He fixed my bike and gave me some cash to get me back on the road and back on my feet. He also gave me his phone numbers should I ever need any help.”

“It still took me a couple of years to understand that Michael was doing all out of kindness. I did some serious reflection within me. Two years later I did call Michael up. He led me down a different path. One that completely changed my life. I was born again. I had a new life now, one that was free from those things that were holding my life back. Things like anger and guilt. I received God's love and forgiveness and have never looked back. Now I ride, for Jesus, sharing my story and His love wherever I go.”

Janelle was astounded by the story that she heard. It was not possible that faith in Jesus had changed this man that much. She wanted to ask questions but her fatigue would not let her and she fell back asleep. Morning came and she felt better and stronger. Paul brought her to her car and followed her to the nearest hospital.

Paul went into the hospital to explain to the staff what had happened to Janelle and how he had found her. She was surprised that everyone at the hospital seemed to know Paul. He was greeted warmly by staff and patients alike. He told Janelle that they would take good care of her here and bid her farewell and went to the elevator to another part of the hospital. She was seen by a nurse quickly because a head injury could be severe.

She decided to ask a few questions about Paul of the triage nurse. The nurse, Emily, said she knew Paul very well, since Paul is her older brother. Everything Paul told her was true according to Emily, including his transformation and new life. Paul is the one that paid for Emily to go to school to become a nurse, and right now he is most likely visiting people in the hospital. He went from a person that cared only for his own desires to a person that cares for others needs before his own.

Janelle was treated for her head injury and released that day. The doctor told her that the tests showed signs of a major head injury and that there is evidence of a fractured skull, but all seems to be healed and she is recovering. She was told to take it easy for a few days and to follow up in about a week.

She left the hospital confused. What had Paul done to her that she was even able to drive today. She has enough knowledge of medicine to know that she should not have been able to. Paul exits the hospital at the same time as she did.

“What did you do to me?” She asks him.

“I have done nothing but keep you safe and get you to a hospital as soon as possible.” He replied.

“You did something. The doctor told me that I had a fractured skull. What did you do?” She responded.

“I did nothing. I did pray for you. God healed you.” He stated.

“I don't.....” She paused as she was about to say that she did not believe, but the evidence was sitting in her hand in the form of her release papers.

“Have a good day, God Bless.” Paul said with a smile as he got on his motorcycle and rode away.

The last thing that she remembers looking at was a tattoo on Paul arm that read Isaiah 53:5. She got back to her motel room and looked for the bible that would be there. She looked up the verse. “But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” Isaiah 53:5 NLT


Comments:
 
StarPoet   StarPoet wrote
on 6/26/2015 5:01:58 AM
Great story of redemption and grace being passed on. I think most of us have some things we need to or have left behind. Love the scripture you ended with!

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Synopsis
Outer appearance does not always reflect a person's heart
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