My husband and I sold supplies to commercial fishermen on Dickinson Bay and had many friends in the fishing community. One man, however, resisted all attempts at friendliness. “Red” trapped and sold crabs, and he had the disposition of those unpleasant creatures. If someone said, “Good morning,” he was sure to growl, “What’s good about it?”  Needless to say, everyone avoided him.  However, my stepson Wilson–who has a heart of gold–tried to look after him a bit. When Red got sick and went to the hospital, Wilson did what he could to help. Alarmed at the old man’s condition, he told me, “I think he needs a pastor.”

I coerced a local preacher to come with me to the nursing home. Red was so rude, the preacher threw up his hands and left.  A bit more stubborn, I went back and took roses from my garden. Red seemed a bit nicer, so I continued visiting and tried reading a few Bible verses. It was hard to sit through his angry outbursts. He was mad at everyone. He hadn’t spoken to his only son in five years and refused to let anyone contact him. He blamed the doctors and nurses for his illness, and was probably the worst patient they’d ever had. Every Christian in his life had let him down, and he wanted nothing to do with God or church.

However, he began to look forward to my visits and liked the flowers, so he tolerated my insistence on a short prayer together. One evening, he interrupted me to cry out, “Why, God? Why am I so sick and alone?”  Afterward, I asked, “Do you feel better?”  He shook his head. “No. Not at all.”  Timidly, I suggested he try forgiving others.  He must have visualized  hundreds of people, for he turned to me and asked, “Would a blanket forgiveness do?”

I shook my head. “No, Red. I think you have to forgive them one by one.”  He must have spent the entire night awake remembering and forgiving.  The next day, he told me, “You can call my son.”   I raced to the nursing station with the good news, and the son came the next day. Red was very loving, and their broken relationship was healed. He began to kiss the nurses’ hands and call them “angels.”   God and His Son, Jesus Christ, became the focus of his conversation. He now ministered to me. I have never seen such a transformation in a person’s life.

When I get to heaven, I know I’ll be met by someone with flaming red hair.  The crabbiest man I’ve ever known will be one of my angels.

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