An Old Man in a Chair

Like most families, my parents always thought of ways to make a living and enjoy life. My dad had a good-paying job, and they entertained many different ventures. One of these ventures was opening a nightclub/pool hall. This new business was on the highway in front of the trailer park where my grandmother lived. It worked out well; my parents had a babysitter nearby to allow them the freedom to operate their new business effectively.

My brother and I are twins; we were around 6-7 years old at that time. Nobody knows why, or even how, but one night my brother and I found ourselves in this nightclub. It was an ordinary nightclub/pool hall scene; the lights were dim, the music was blaring, and the effects of alcohol were in full force.

I don’t know what triggered the altercation that night, all I can recall is that the place erupted into pure chaos. Men were fighting all over that pool hall. And I’ll never forget my mother standing on a pool table swinging a pool stick in a feeble attempt to defend herself from the chaos.

Perhaps the most frightening element of this overall terrifying experience was the sight of a car, with a man on its hood, flying through the storefront window. You read that right. The crash, the glass shattering, the screams, all of this embedded forever in my mind.

Suddenly my brother and I, in full-blown panic, heard the comforting voice of an older man sitting behind the bar area in a rocking chair. His face glowed with safety and his overalls and white hair I’ll never forget. He told us to come to him, and with the gentleness of a grandfather pulled us onto his lap where he held my brother on one leg and me on the other.

Time seemed to slow to a standstill as the gentle hands of this unlikely stranger held us close; I could still see the images of the chaos around us, but oddly enough, the scene was silent. I couldn’t hear a sound except for the calming voice of this older man. The overwhelming feeling of peace engulfed us as we just sat in his lap and eventually fell asleep.

The next morning, we woke in our beds, and neither my parents nor my grandmother knew we were there that night. They never saw us, and what was even more fascinating is that they never saw the older man in overalls.

Years have passed, and the memory of that eventful night has nearly faded from memory. It’s been almost 30 years since then, and I am married now with three children. Life is unpredictable, and there always seems to be another obstacle waiting for us to just turn around. At times, feelings of uncertainty grip my heart. Everywhere I look, I see chaos. The weight of reality can bear down on me like a coat weighing 500 pounds.

As I knelt to pray recently, the Lord reminded me of that night, seemingly out of nowhere. I saw the scene again in my mind’s eye, and I heard those familiar angry voices and the embedded sound of the crash of broken glass. Then, I saw that older man once again and felt that overwhelming peace begin to engulf me as I prayed.

Almost 30 years ago, while I knew nothing of God, He saw my brother in a nightclub and me. While my family showed no interest in Him, He showed interest in two young boys. The Lord never said a word that night, and really, He didn’t have to. I got His message loud and clear. Sometimes I may find myself in moments of utter chaos, yet amidst it all, He can give me peace that passes all understanding.

When I think back to that night almost 30 years ago now, I am overwhelmed that God would take the time to watch over me nearly ten years before I would ever walk into a church service and hear the gospel for the first time.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

I don’t know where you are today but rest assured God is watching over your life, and even when life is out of control, you can rest comfortably in His peace. He is the peace that passes all understanding. As long as I place my trust in Him, He will give me His peace.

I know how the disciples must’ve felt when Jesus comfortingly said to them, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

Published by Joshua McElhaney

Joshua McElhaney has served over 15 years in ministry, serving as both an Assistant Pastor for over a decade, and as lead Pastor. During his time in leadership, Joshua learned many valuable lessons about leading. Using his own experiences and the troves of Biblical treasures, McElhaney has created resources that will enlighten, empower, and enable leaders across the spectrum to lead the way God has called them to lead. Joshua married Karena, his college sweetheart, in June of 2007. Together they have three beautiful children; Mayli, Jaxson, and Asher.

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