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Topic: CULTURE...POPULAR,

The Stranger
A few months before I was born, my dad met
a stranger who was new to our small town.
From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with
this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited
him to live with our family. The stranger was
quickly accepted and was around to welcome
me into the world a few months later.

As I grew up I never questioned his place in
our family. Mom taught me to love the Word of
God, and Dad taught me to obey it. But the
stranger was our storyteller. He could weave
the most fascinating tales. Adventures,
mysteries, and comedies were daily
conversations. He could hold our whole family
spellbound for hours each evening. He was
like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad,
Bill, and me to our first major league baseball
game. He was always encouraging us to see
the movies and he even made arrangements
to introduce us to several movie stars.

The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad
didn't seem to mind, but sometimes Mom
would quietly get up - while the rest of us were
enthralled with one of his stories of faraway
places - go to her room, read her Bible, and
pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the
stranger would leave. You see, my dad ruled
our household with certain moral convictions
But this stranger never felt an obligation to
honor them. Profanity, for example, was not
allowed in our house-not from us, from our
friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor,
however, used occasional four letter words
that burned my ears and made Dad squirm.
To my knowledge the stranger was never
confronted. My Dad was a teetotaler who
didn't permit alcohol in his home - not even for
cooking But the stranger felt like we needed
exposure and enlightened us to other ways of
life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic
beverages often. He made cigarettes look
tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished.

He talked freely ( too much, too freely) about
sex. His comments were sometimes blatant,
sometimes suggestive, and generally
embarrassing. I know now that my early
concepts of the man/woman relationship were
influenced by the stranger.

As I look back, I believe it was the grace of
God that the stranger did not influence us
more. Time after time he opposed the values
of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked
and never asked to leave. More than thirty
years have passed since the stranger moved
in with the young family on Morningside Drive.
But if I were to walk into my parents' den
today, you would still see him sitting over in a
corner, waiting for someone to listen to him
talk and watch him draw his pictures. His
name?.....We always just called him...
From a message by Pau Harvey.

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018