“I’ve messed up,” I say to myself looking up at a grey winter sky. It was true, I had really made a mess of things. I had gotten kicked out of school, lost a full scholarship, stolen my Dad’s credit card and racked up $30,000 dollars in charges taking multiple women out at a time, I abandoned my mother, was totally not there for my little brother, I had been fired from J.C. Penney’s for stealing and had been evicted from my apartment in College Station just a little more than a month earlier. I was a wretch. Now, I’m on campus, out in the cold, staring down at a bright yellow boot on the place I called home -my car.
I’m angry but not angry. I’m sad but not sad. Those things are there but I’ve tipped beyond feeling. I’m resigned. “I’m done. There’s no point,” I think. But before I end it all, I felt the overwhelming need to apologize. I wanted absolution. I remembered back when I interned at Entergy in Jackson, MS, there was a man who knew I was going to Mississippi State that told me to visit his friend, Dr. Gregory Jones. And, at that time, Dr. Jones had an office at the Baptist Student Union. So, I trek across campus, walk into the BSU and am met by a large, bald-headed man with silver aviator style glasses sitting atop round, rosy cheeks that seemed to be permanently fixed in a grin. Wasting no time, I ask, “May I talk to you?” He ushers me into his office. With tears, I immediately began to share everything I had done wrong or even thought I had done wrong since leaving home.
Dr. Jones sat all the way back in his chair, his face now more stern, squared his body to mine, leaned forward slowly, resting his elbows on his desk with his large hands clasped and said out of nowhere, “God does not hate you.” As though he could see me mentally recoiling from the notion, he continued, “How do I know? Because, He sent Help just for people who makes mistakes.” Dr. Jones talked for several more minutes but I don’t remember what he said. I could not hear him. His voice became muffled as though he were speaking from another room. I was shell-shocked. My hardened heart was being eviscerated by the blast of those words,
“God does not hate you.”
It felt like there was Something in that room besides Dr. Jones and I. I was convicted but no longer felt condemned. I could see the gravity of my error but was somehow no longer under the weight of them. There was a compassion and a hopeful, alternative view of my future. Something shifted in me. Though nothing had changed about my circumstances, there was suddenly power to go on. It was that day that I looked upon Christ and was saved. And, this is not hyperbole, on a dreary, cold winter day, the clouds parted and the sun shone in the office at that very moment.
Pastor Gregory Jones was an agent of grace. He depended on it and shared it freely. As a result, I am here to share this testimony. Dr. Jones would often say, “You don’t have to be perfect, just available.” I thank God that He made Dr. Gregory Jones available to me.
I love you Rev. Jones.