Another Book by its Cover

It was a nice, warm summer day in Oklahoma. The sun was shining brightly, though it was not too hot. The trees were full of green leaves. Birds were flying through the trees and singing their songs. The trees were also filled with squirrels and chipmunks scurrying about looking for food. Children were running around, reveling in their vacation time from school. People were out and about enjoying the summer day.

Joe was standing in the backyard of his house looking at an old car that was sitting there in ruins. Joe was just staring at his old car, a 1979 Toyota Celica. He forgot what the color was originally, now it was mostly the reddish-orange color of rust. The engine has not been started in over fifteen years. All of the tires were flat and most likely would not hold air again. The car was a wreck, just like his life.

His wife constantly told him to get rid of the piece of junk. That was before her and the two children left. His business began to fail shortly after that. He is a florist by trade, but he was unable to make anything that resembled a beautiful piece anymore. He used to think of his work as art, but he was no longer able to see bright colors in his life. Joe always felt as if it was winter around him. It was always cold and bleak. He was looking at his old car thinking about how that car was in better shape than he was. Joe hears a motorcycle drive past his backyard.

Joe hears the motorcycle driving back towards his backyard. The motorcycle stops in front of the fence. Joe just stares as this monster of a man gets off the motorcycle and walks towards him. He is wearing black leather pants, a black leather vest over a t-shirt and a bandanna on his head. His arms were covered in tattoos. He takes off his sunglasses and reveals his deep brown eyes. Those eyes seemed to be out of place on this man with the tattoos. They appeared gentle and compassionate.

“Can I help you sir?” Joe asked trying to hide the fear in his voice.

“I was just wondering about the car. The way you were looking at it makes me think that there is a story behind it.” The man asks.

“Yeah,there is a long story.” Joe answers.

“I don’t have anywhere special to be. I’m Paul.” He introduces himself.

“Name’s Joe. To be honest, sir, I’m not sure that I am in the mood to talk.” Joe replies.

“OK,was just wondering about the car, those old Toyotas were good little cars. I was wondering if you were going to restore it. To be honest, you seemed a little sad while you were looking at it.” Paul responds.

Joe looked again from the car to the eyes of the man in front of him. The eyes were still full of compassion but it was something on his bandanna that caught his attention now. It was a cross. He now looked to the tattoos and was puzzled.There was a depiction of Noah’s ark. There was another one that showed a vine with grapes on the branches. There was some writing within the vine but he could not read it from this distance. On the other arm was a crown of thorns. He was able to read the inscription that was above this one. It read, Isaiah 53:5.

“I’ll make a deal with you. I think that there is a story behind all of that artwork on your arms. You tell me about those and I’ll let you know my story.” Joe proposes.

“Sure thing.” Paul agrees.

“All of these tattoos are cover-ups.” Paul says.

“Cover-ups?”Joe asks.

“Yes,cover-ups from when I was a different man, in a different time, and in a different life.” Paul explains as his eyes now appeared to be far away, as if he was looking back in time.

“I was the stereotypical biker thug that people hear about. I was one of those bikers that give all the others a bad name. I was into booze and drugs. I didn’t care who I hurt. Took what I wanted and did not care about anyone but myself. Then, a storm changed that. I was high and barely remember getting on my bike. I know that a storm rose up out of nowhere. The next thing I remember is waking up in some stranger’s cabin, with my numerous wounds patched up.” Paul pauses in his story.

“Let me guess, you found Jesus in that cabin.” Joe states.

“No, He found me. The cabin belonged to a man named Michael.” Paul replies.

“Jesus found you?” Joe asks with a visible confusion.

“Yes, through the drugs, the pain and my anger and threats to the man helping me, He found me. Michael was praying for me the whole time I was there, and I was able to hear him in between my periods of unconsciousness. Michael got to me when he told me about myself. He told me about the emptiness that I was feeling at that time. He told me about the void missing in my life somewhere deep within me that I was always trying to fill, but never could.”

“What happened next?” Joe asked.

“Michael told me how he filled that void. It was God’s love that was missing and he told me the truth of the cross. The reason that Jesus died on that cross was for me.” Paul replied.

“So then you found Jesus.” Joe states.

“No, it still took me a couple of years before realizing the truth of what Michael told me and of what happened that night. I should have been dead with the injuries that I had. Yet, I was healed. God reached down and healed me, of all the people in this world, He chose me. I could not understand that at the time.” Paul responds.

“OK, I did tell you that I would tell you the story of my car.” Joe says.

“I bought this car after opening my business.” Joe begins.

“What business is that?” Paul asks.

“I was a florist.” Joe replies.

“Was?” Paul asks.

“I’ll get to that.” Joe continues, “The car was all I could afford at the time. It was in much better condition then. I needed a car to get to work. My wife and I had our first child on the way.” Joe says as his eyes now have the faraway look to them as he is reliving his story in his mind.

“The car was a good car. It had no problems. The flower shop was starting to enjoy some success and we had another child on the way. I was able to get my wife a car that more suited her needs with the children, but I kept this old Toyota. My wife kept telling me to get rid of the car, but there was no reason to. That was all before she and the kids left.” Joe explains.

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Paul says.

“I have not been the same since they left. I lost the shop. I parked this car back here and left it. I have another car but I just could not drive this anymore.”Joe states.

“Have you ever thought of going to her?” Joe asks.

“I’ve tried, several times, but I am a coward and could not bring myself to do it.” Joe answers.

“I can see that you still love your wife and kids, maybe if you talked to her?” Paul asks.

“I wish that I could.” Joe says with a defeated tone.

“I’ll go with you; maybe having a friend close by will help to give you strength.” Paul offers.

“I wish that I could go and see them, like I said, I have tried many times.” Joe answers, “But you seem to want to see them. So I’ll take you there.”

Paul gets on his bike and follows Joe through town. Paul is praying the whole way as he is also concentrating on following Joe’s car. He was not truly looking at their surroundings until they started to slow down and turned into a cemetery. Paul’s heart sank as the realization came to him of what Joe meant when he talked about his wife and his kids leaving. Joe stops his car and begins to get out.

Paul whispers a prayer as he gets off his bike, “Holy Spirit, help me with the words to say to your child, Joe.”

Joe leads them to a gravestone in silence. Paul gets a revelation about something else Joe had said. Joe told him that he had tried to go to them. Paul now knows the full meaning of that statement.

“I was at work. My wife and kids were broadsided by a driver that ran a red light. The doctors said that they were killed almost instantly. I came home to the police at my door and they told me what happened. The other driver was never caught, so we do not know what happened.” Joe explains

“I can’t even begin to know the pain you feel.” Paul says.

Tears begin to run down Joe's unshaven cheeks. Paul puts his hand on his shoulder, and gives him an embrace, which was not immediately returned. Joe finished crying into Paul’s shoulder and pushed himself away.

“So tell me Mr. Christian biker, why would God allow this to happen? Why would He take away everything from me?” Joe asks with an edge in his voice.

“I wish that I could answer that question for you.” Paul replied, “But I am not able to give you that answer. I can tell you that God did not take your family from you, the driver of the other car did. What I can also tell you is that God did not promise us a life without tragedy, He promised us that we would not go through the pain alone.”

“I have been alone since that day.” Joe states.

“I know that it is not God’s intention that you carry this burden alone.” Paul returns.

“I don’t believe that, my life was over since that day.” Joe says.

“Do you plan on restoring that car?” Paul asks.

“That car is nothing more than a piece of junk now, it can’t be restored.” Joe answers.

“I think it can be. Would you mind if I tried?” Paul asks.

“Be my guest.” Joe laughs.

Paul worked on the car over the next couple of weeks. He started working on the engine first. He took it apart, cleaned what could be cleaned, and replaced what needed to be replaced. Soon, Paul was ready to see if the car would start .Joe came out to him with a cup of coffee.

“You said that God would be with me through my pain. Let me ask you, what would God know of my pain?” Joe asks.

“He watched as His only begotten Son died on a cross, knowing that He had the power to stop it.” Paul answers

“Why would God do that?” Joe asks shaking his head.

“He did that because it was the only way that we could be saved, the only way that we could be restored.” Paul answers.

“I’m beyond that.” Joe replies.

“You said the same thing about this car.” Paul countered.

“We’ll see.” Joe states.

In response, Paul opens the driver’s door and turns the key. The car’s engine sputters a bit, but then roars to life. Paul steps back and wipes his hand on a rag. Joe is looking at his car in shock.

“How?”Joe asks looking at his car wide eyed.

“It took some time and work. I started with the engine because the rest of the car is really no good without the engine working; it is the heart of the car.” Paul replies, “It needed outside help though. The car was not able to be restored by it, it needed help from me. We are the same way. We cannot restore ourselves, we need outside help. The car needed help from a man, a being that created it.We need help from our Creator to be restored, and He will start with our heart. Emotional pain is the worst of all Joe, no one can see the wounds or scars, but God can. He can heal you, but only if you allow Him to.”

“Why would God want to heal me?” Joe asks.

“Because He loves you, even when you think that no one can, He always will.” Paul answers, “Jesus loves you and wants to heal you. Will you allow Him to?”

“Yes.”Joe states as he looks down.

Paul begins to pray with Joe. Joe’s heart begins to feel lighter. Joe is now able to see the words written on the tattoo of the vine, John 15:5. Later that day, Joe pulls out a bible that belonged to his wife and looked up the verse. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.


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Synopsis
Paul meets up with a man suffering from depression. A short story of faith.
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