The Cantankerous Crazy Old Man with a Message

Stooped over. Slow. Annoying. Loud. Probably uneducated. The accent of all accents. Brooklyn, New York, accent. Crazy, or that’s how he came across anyway. And cantankerous. And I’ve never used the word cantankerous in my life. It’s probably the first time I’ve ever spelled it. But I can’t think of a better word to describe the muttering-under-his breath, complaining, complaining, complaining, shuffling along old guy who used to deliver the mail years ago where I worked at a financial newspaper in the Wall Street area.

photo courtesy of pixabay

Up and down the little aisles of reporters and editors he would go, day after day, same spiel after same spiel, it was always the same. Aside from his muttering, he would cry out for all to hear a seemingly meaningless message that I doubt a single person gave an ounce of credence to as we pecked away at our computer keyboards readying the daily national financial newspaper where we all worked to help people around the nation stay on top of money matters.

The old man’s spiel never changed. He would have made a good soap box preacher if he had had a box to stand on or a Bible to preach from. But he was too busy delivering mail to stand on a soap box, and his gnarled, aged hands were too filled with mail to carry a Bible. But he had a powerful message just the same, and I can’t help but think all these years later that the world should have been paying attention to what he had to say. I know I should have.

“It’s only money!” he cried out daily as he did his snail paced shuffle and handed out the mail. “It’s only money! You can’t take it with you!”

And off he shuffled, muttering his way out the door. Until the next time. And the next time. Day after day until the head honchos decided after all the years of his faithful mail delivery they would give him the pink slip and boot him out the door probably without a soul in the world to care for him and not an ounce of mercy considering all the many years he had worked there. I feel they may have been far too concerned with making their money to consider that maybe he should have been kept on simply because of his loyalty through the years to his work there, because of his age, and because of his obvious need. But off he went, and we at the newspaper continued on with our debauchery, our self-centered lives, our addictions, our brokenness, our affairs, our everything but the way we should have been living our lives.

Over 20 years later now, I look back at those days when I was mired in my self-centered world, clueless about God, festering in sickening sin, spending money like I would never run out of it, crashing into other people’s lives, mowing down whatever and whoever got in the way of what I wanted, as ungrateful as a human can be for the luxury I lived in, and utterly foolish to disregard the messages God was giving me even before I believed in Him.

That man wasn’t crazy. I was. We all were. All of us who stored up our money so we could toss it at bartenders, spend it on sickeningly expensive New York City housing while the homeless huddled on freezing cold street corners. He may have been cantankerous. He may have been a little off his rocker. But he knew what he was talking about. And I knew nothing whatsoever of what he was saying. Because back then I couldn’t see past my own self, unless it was for the purpose of self-gratification. I looked to others to see how they could satisfy me, help me, give to me. I looked to money to get me what I wanted. I looked to my job to give me the money I could spend on drinks, on my eating disorder, on anything that would benefit me. I couldn’t hear the message in the old man’s words not because I was broken. But because I needed to be broken.

And then I was. Broken. Broken for so many years afterward that I was finally ready to meet God, to receive Jesus Christ as Lord, to turn away from my past, to get beyond me, and to learn to live my life for Him. And now, decades later, with a memory that comes and goes as it seems to see fit, I remember snippets from my past at the oddest of times. And these words have come back to me. The words I now understand. “It’s only money. You can’t take it with you!”

I look around my little house. My walls are naked except for a cheap pink clock. I have very little furniture. Bibles. A few books, hardly any. My two computers for the ministry. The smallest wardrobe I have probably ever had. The rest of the house is filled with supplies for the mostly special needs & senior rescued dogs, and a few odds and ends for the ministry. My income floats somewhere around the poverty level. My emergency savings are for just that, emergencies. I have been searching my house to see if there is anything left I can give away. I still find a few more odds and ends. Stuff I don’t  need. Stuff that could help someone, or bless someone. I have lost most of my desire for the material. I am thankful for the money God gives me to pay bills.

I have never been more fulfilled. Never more satisfied. Never more joyful, hopeful, peaceful, more full of love and light and thanksgiving. It’s not because of money. It’s not because of men. It’s not because of alcohol. It’s not because of the relationships I always wanted. Or because of the family that abandoned me. Or because of a social life. I don’t have one.

It’s because of the one thing I can take with me when I leave this earth. It’s because of Him.

The old man wasn’t so crazy after all, was he? The Bible says we never know who we might be talking to; it just might be an angel. I don’t know if anyone would call that old cantankerous fellow an angel, but he sure had a message to deliver, didn’t he?

It’s only money. You can’t take it with you.

Is Jesus the Lord of your life? Do you have the promise of everlasting life with God? Do you know for sure you’re gong to heaven? Are you born again? Are you saved? Or, like I was all those years ago, are you lost and in need of the Savior?

Father, forgive me for all the people I have judged through the years, for all that I wasted and was not thankful for, for all those I deemed to be crazy when I was the one who needed help, for all your messages you delivered that I missed because I could not see past me, and for not knowing you and even when I did for not showing your love and mercy and kindness and forgiveness and grace to a world in such desperate need of you. Please Lord, as I continue forward, help me to walk in your ways that the light of Jesus the Christ might shine in and through my life as a beacon to the lost, the broken, the desperate, the hopeless, and all with whom I come in contact that are in need both near and so far away. Amen! 

Please call me at 843-338-2219 if you would like to learn how to get saved and be given a fresh start and the promise of eternity. 

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2 NASB

But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:6-11 NASB

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:17-20
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