By this we know love that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18
"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times ...."
That's the way Charles Dickens began his novel, A Tale of Two Cities. Those words also accurately describe the last few weeks in the life of a 12-year-old North Carolina boy, Nolan Turner.
First, let's talk about the worst of times. Turner was born with Spina bifida, a birth defect which caused him to be confined to a wheelchair. Even though he has been saddled with a physical challenge, he has risen to that challenge and is an avid player of wheelchair basketball.
On March 22nd Turner was trying to raise some money, so he might introduce his classmates to his favorite sport. He was doing okay with that task when a man came up to him, made some small talk, picked up Turner's donation jar and walked away.
Turner called out, but the man disappeared through a nearby woods. He disappeared with $250 he had stolen from a boy in a wheelchair.
Now I know Luther said we are supposed to "put the best construction on everything," and I've tried hard to do so, but, bottom line, I can't think of a single best construction I can place on someone who would do such a thing. The culprit makes "stealing candy from a baby" look like charity work. It's the kind of thing that can turn a young man to bitterness.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, the best of times.
People who heard about what happened to Turner were shocked such a thing could happen. Now those folks, many of whom were Christian, didn't react with mere words and talk; they responded in deed.
Since his story hit the news Nolan has been flooded with notes, letters, cards and cash from these folks who wanted to reflect the love of the Lord Jesus. They wanted to assure the 12-year-old that the Holy Spirit can inspire more people to do good, than the devil can motivate toward evil.
Now I don't know if the charitable folks of the world always outnumber the stealing folks, but I'm glad in Nolan Turner's case that is the way the story concludes.
God's people loved not just in word and talk -- they loved in deed and truth.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, if it be possible, let the work of those who would steal from children in wheelchairs be hindered and halted. Turn around such sad, sinful souls, so they may know their sins can be forgiven by the Lord Jesus. Further, may the work done by Christians in the Savior's Name be blessed. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries