This morning we went to church and I saw an old pal.  Him and I went to the same university, he was two years older so we didn’t know eachother well, but we still knew eachother and I like to think, respected eachother.  He was an ultra athlete in university and I was a semi athlete.

A couple of years ago his son and Zion played on the same baseball team.  He helped me coach the team.  He is a good guy.

When I walked into church, our eyes met.  We both nodded and smiled.

After church we spoke for a few minutes.  We had a nice, meaningful conversation about the hardships of life.  When we left the conversation I asked him to please say hello to his wife for me.  He couldn’t say the same.

5 minutes later I saw him again.  He was in the parking lot.  He was smoking.

He watched me walk out of church with 5 kids. ( I inherited two for yesterday and today while some friends move into their new house )  He watched me walk out of church.  One adult, 5 kids.

I’m sure he felt bad about smoking in front of someone who held Marisa, a non-smoker, through a year of chemotherapy.  I think he felt bad about it because he said to me,

“I still can’t kick the habit”.

We looked at each other.  My only response to him was, “I love you man”.

I loaded the kids in the van.  I kept thinking about him.  More specifically, I kept thinking about his beautiful wife and their three beautiful kids.

I started to drive out of the parking lot when I saw him again.  I stopped the van, got out and walked up to him.  I put my hands on his shoulders and said, “Besides ‘I love you’, my emotional response to you smoking is this;  I don’t neccesarily worry about you because as a disciple, you can understand Grace as much as an earthly mind can.  I don’t necessarily worry about your wife because she can too.  I worry about your children.  I worry about your children because time and time again I am realizing that when I put the kids to bed, I was wrong.  I was wrong in thinking that the most difficult thing in my life would be having to say good bye to Marisa.  I was wrong because the most difficult thing in my life is watching our children grieve and suffer.  Because that is torture.  That is a glimpse of hell.”

( Not wanted to be hypocritical and knowing full well that I love the smell of a cigarette at a campfire, I went on )

I said, “I hope I don’t come across as poisonous righteous, because that is not what I want to be.  I just want to let you know that when I saw you smoking, I thought of your kids.”

He looked at me.  I don’t think he was surprised because I think he knows that I am an emotional beast but I think he was pensive.

Because I didn’t want to leave the conversation without some options, I gave him a suggestion.  I said, “I have an idea.  Stop smoking now and start again when you are 60.  Then your kids will be older and can most likely handle it better.”

He smiled.  I walked back to the van.  I was hoping that I didn’t annoy him.  I don’t know that I did.  I also don’t know that I didn’t.  But I did feel better because just before I stepped into the van he said to me,

“I love you too man.”