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Previous Message From Virtual Church

Limo 14

Jack's plane landed with a little rougher landing than normal. As the wheels of the plane hit the runway, the pilot put the engines in reverse and Jack could feel the air braking action kick in as he was slightly thrown about in his seat. The pilot said "Welcome To Indianapolis" over the PA and made some other perfunctory remarks about the weather being rainy and to remain seated if you were going on to Cleveland. The plane gently taxied up to the terminal. When the plane stopped, just about everyone popped out of their seats on cue and started grabbing for their luggage stashed in the overhead luggage compartments.

Indy was no place to hold a business meeting on 500 Mile Race week-end. The hotels were all booked and traffic was being re-routed for the Indianapolis 500 Parade downtown. Because there were no hotel rooms available, Jack was to meet big investment bankers to secure new funding for his company. The meeting was scheduled to take place in Lafayette, located midway between Indy and Chicago. Even getting a hotel room in Lafayette was a chore on race week-end. Jack bounded down the terminal walkway and headed for the baggage pick up area. According to the arrangements made by Jack's secretary, Jack was to pick up a limo and the limo would take Jack to Lafayette. After Jack found his baggage on the baggage carousel he located Morgan's Advance Limo counter. Jack was told he would be using limo number 14 and the limo was waiting at the curb.

When Jack found the limo, the driver exited the driver's seat, opened the passenger's rear door for Jack, and placed Jack's baggage in the trunk. The limo driver crawled in behind the wheel, started the engine, turned on the windshield wipers because of the downpour, and slowly pulled away from the curb. As the limo driver pulled out of the airport complex and onto the Airport Expressway, the limo driver said, "I'm Morgan and we'll be taking a detour, sir." Jack said, "O.K. Morgan, just so it doesn't take too long."

About a half-mile from the airport the limo driver made a hard right turn off the Airport Expressway and the limo entered a long tunnel. Jack had lived in Indy when he was in college and immediately said, "Wait a minute. Where are we? What are you doing? There is no tunnel like this in Indianapolis!" The limo driver calmly said, "It's the detour, sir." Dumbfounded Jack didn't say anything for a minute and shortly the limo left the tunnel.

There was only one problem. When the limo left the tunnel, the limo was no longer in Indianapolis. The limo was in Greendale, Missouri where Jack had grown up. Jack looked out the window and was shocked beyond words. Not only was the limo in Greendale, but all the cars and the town of Greendale appeared to be like they were in the 1950's when Jack was just a boy. Out of the side window of the limo Jack saw Jimmy Dunn riding that fancy bike. Stinking stealin' Jimmy Dunn! Stealin' Jimmy had stolen Jack's paper route money from Jack's money bag one Saturday. Of course, Jack had to make up for the stolen cash. The limo driver said, "Did you ever forgive him?" Jack's response was an expletive in the negative. As the limo drove along Main Street, Jack saw Gloria. Jack forgot about where he was and who he was and rolled down the window and yelled Gloria's name out the window. The limo driver said, "Sorry sir, she can't hear you or see you. Do you remember that you hurt the girl? You made fun of her. You liked to humiliate her in front of her friends. Did you ever apologize, Jack?" In subdued tones, Jack said, "No. Hey I was just a kid." As the limo drove up to the corner of Main and Fountain Street, the limo driver turned right and a block away they stopped in front of Jack's house. In the front yard Jack could see his sister Kathleen when she was about twelve years old. Kathleen had died of cancer about five years ago at the age of 55. The limo driver said, "Did you ever tell Kathleen you loved her?" Jack said in a whisper, "No." They drove to the end of Fountain Street and entered another tunnel. Jack was in a state of shock from being taken back in time. Jack was further shocked when the limo exited the second tunnel and Jack could see they were in St. Louis in front of the Wilson Building. The Wilson Building was where Jack held his first job out of college. In front of the building Jack saw Ralph Arten. Ralph had hired Jack and eighteen months later fired Jack for Jack's refusal to follow company policy about being honest when dealing with new customers. The limo driver said, "Did you ever forgive Ralph?" Jack said, "No, and I don't intend to." The limo drove a little further and Jack saw Francine. Jack and Francine had worked in the same office. Jack and Francine had an affair, and Francine became pregnant but had kept the child after Jack refused to marry her. The limo driver said, "Jack, did you ever have any contact with Francine or your son after you and Francine broke up before your son was born?" Jack, in guilt-tinged tones said, "No, I paid my support. Wasn't that enough?"

Jack said, "I don't know what is going on here but I don't like it. We are supposed to be headed up I-65 for Lafayette and you've taken me places in the past and dredged up stuff I have put away. Let's get back to driving up I-65 shall we?" The limo driver said, "We have one more place to go." The limo turned a corner and the limo seemed to blast forward at the speed of light. Suddenly, Jack was at a drive-in theater. It was night, and on the screen Jack could see his mother, his father, his sister, and all the people he knew while he was growing up. The movie on the screen was a super-fast replay of all of Jack's life from the time he was born until this present moment. Jack could see it all now. Jack could see his callousness, his selfishness, his ego, his greed, his cold heart, his always wanting everything his way. Jack could see all the people who he should have forgiven but didn't. Jack could see the hurt he put on people by being like he was. Jack whispered, "I'm sorry, but it's too late to be sorry." Morgan, the limo driver said, "No Jack, it's never too late to be sorry. And being sorry is not enough. You have to be sorry and be willing to change." Jack said, "I don't think I can change. I am who I am." The limo driver said, "No, Jack, you can be who God wants you to be if you want to be who God wants you to be. Let's make one more stop." The limo pulled away from the drive-in theater and entered another tunnel. As the limo left the tunnel the limo was headed east on old U.S. Route 40 in downtown Greenfield, Indiana. When the limo got to Indiana Rt. 9, the driver made a left turn and newly sprouted corn and soybean fields seemed to blaze past Jack's window in a green blur. After a few left and right turns the limo entered a little town called Fortville. Fortville was a little town that looked like it came out of the movie "It's A Wonderful Life". The limo driver drove Jack and the limo up to the front door of an old five and dime store. The window of the old five and dime indicated the place was now being used as a church. The limo driver said, "Jack, your major investment bankers are not going to show up. You will lose every penny you have because your business market has evaporated and will never come back. When you lose every penny, the people who you thought were your friends will drop you like a hot potato. You will have to start over. You can start over by going inside this church or you can start over by thumbing a ride to a motel down the road. By the time you get to the motel, your creditors will have locked down every bit of everything you call yours. The six hundred dollars you have in your money-clip is all you have left plus the personal belongings you still own in your condo. Your credit card has just maxed out and because you have no more credit left, your limo ride is now over. You decide where you go from here." The limo driver opened his driver's side door and stood up in the street in front of the old five and dime store that was now a church. The driver walked to the back of the limo, popped the trunk lid, lifted out Jack's luggage, and placed the luggage in the street. The driver opened Jack's door. Jack remained seated for just a moment. Jack got out of the limo and the driver slammed the limo door shut. The limo pulled away with Jack standing in the middle of the street next to his luggage.

Jack picked up his luggage and walked a few feet away from the old dime store but suddenly turned toward the church. Not knowing why, Jack walked up to the front door of the old five and dime, opened the door, and found several smiling faces to greet him. One of the people inside the church smiled, reached out his hand in greeting, and said, "Did the limo bring you?" Jack said, "Well, well, uh, yes, but how did you know?" The church person replied, "He brought all of us. We were all in a limo and we all ended up here. We've all made mistakes, sometimes even big mistakes. We were all living the wrong kind of life. In our church language, we call ourselves sinners. But welcome. You are among friends. You are among Christian people who call themselves brothers and sisters in Christ. As Christians, we will love you and not desert you because you have no money or because you have made mistakes. We are here for you. You will always have a home with us."

John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV)

Epilogue

This story is fiction but is full of spiritual truth. However, one part of the story is true. Up until about a year ago, there really was a church in an old five and dime store in Fortville, IN. Pastor Mark Adcock is the pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship, and his church used to hold services in downtown Fortville in the old five and dime. The church had a real soda fountain, still working, in the front of the area used as the sanctuary. The new church plant had less than thirty members when Rev. Adcock began his ministry in Fortville in the early nineties. Today, the average morning attendance at the new church building on the outskirts of Fortville numbers about 250. If you live in central Indiana, whether you use a limo or not, please visit pastor Adcock and the wonderful brothers and sisters at New Life Christian Fellowship.

This story appeared as the July, 2003 virtual church message at Shepherd's Care Ministries virtual church site at http://www.findthepower.com

 

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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.

Entire contents copyright © 1999 - 2010 by Rev. Patrick Kelly, All rights reserved.
All content is presented on behalf of Shepherd’s Care Ministries. Shepherd's Care Ministries reserves no right or claim upon content.

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