In a moment of weakness this week I yielded to the temptation to buy some Michigan Sour Cherry Candies. I really don’t need Michigan Sour Cherry Candies at all, but I can eat them like a champion. Outside the store was a kid riding a skateboard back and forth in front of the door. Just a rude kid. I was a little irritated with him. He had no regard for the safety of the customers trying to get into the store. He made no attempt to pause to let me get into the store. He knew they didn’t want him there interfering with business. I walked past him without acknowledging his presence.
As I walked toward the candy aisle I remembered a news story I’d been listening to on the radio that morning. A thirteen-year-old boy named Tyler Nichols was sitting in class in a school about two miles from our church on Thursday morning and asked to be dismissed to use the restroom. What the teacher had no way of knowing is that Tyler had a loaded gun with him. He quietly went the bathroom and took his life.
They say Tyler was a nice boy. He was a good student. He was well-liked. No one knew. This week the whole area mourns his sad, senseless death. All of us wondered what would have happened if we could have helped Tyler with whatever was clouding his young mind.
Walking to the candy aisle I thought about the rude kid on the skateboard. I bought an extra bag of cherry sours. On the way our I caught his eye and said; “Hey, I got something for you. He looked at me suspiciously and I tossed him a bag of my favorite candy. He started to object. I said; “They are great. You’ll like them.”
“Thanks,” he said.
I gave him a smile and drove away with a pray on my heart that I would see him again.
It was a small gesture. Maybe someday we will build a skatepark for him and his friends and the Tylers of the Downriver and we will point them to Jesus before they listen to the dark, deadly voices within that would rob them of life.
…And I pray: Christ Jesus My Savior; give me love and compassion for everyone. Even when they are bad or rude or irritating. Even if I don’t understand them. Even if they are not kind to me. Give me a heart of love. Help me to see into their souls like you do. Help me walk though my world like You walked through Galilee healing and helping, teaching and feeding, loving and forgiving—before it’s too late.
March 25, 2103
I tell a version of this story toward the end of this message recorded on Palm Sunday, March 24, 2013