It’s normally pretty obvious when someone on your frontline is hacked off.
The goalkeeper on your team blasts the eardrums of his back four; there is no ‘kind’ preceding ‘regards’ in the administrator’s email; or the parent at the playpark makes a less than subtle comment to their child about your child’s behaviour (but not directly to you; this is England after all).
Adam’s frontline involves working with beams and sheets of metal, and on this particular day, it was clear that Terry was angry. A steel pole hits the concrete floor. Clang! Followed by a hammer. It was only the two of them in the workshop that day, and under usual circumstances, Adam could have talked Tempestuous Terry down. But these were not usual circumstances.
Rewind a couple of weeks. Adam and Terry had been working on site, and after a hard day’s graft, it was time to head home. Terry had already left when Adam got in his car, only to discover his battery was dead. So Adam called Terry, asked if he could turn back, give him a jump, and everyone would be back home in time for dinner. Terry, who wasn’t too far away at this stage, with no good reason, point-blank refused – leaving Adam stranded and having to wait a couple of hours for the AA.
Annoyed, Adam fired off a sarcastic ‘thank you’ message to Terry just as the AA man was pulling away, and just as Terry was finishing his pudding. Not his finest moment.
From then on, what had been a healthy friendship, where Adam had had some great conversations with Terry about Jesus, became a fractured working relationship. Adam and Terry would still talk, but only about work, and only when they had to.
Fast forward to that day in the workshop. Tools and metalwork continued to crash, and Adam prayed. He longed to be a blessing in Terry’s life: to be a good friend to him and to point him towards Jesus. ‘Father, please provide a way for this relationship to be restored.’
Within a few seconds, Adam received the quickest answer to prayer he’s ever experienced… as a 4 ½ inch aluminium oxide grinding disc came flying toward him. Terry, not particularly aware of Adam’s location, flung this CD-sized disc across the room, like a scorned lover throwing away a copy of Ronan Keating’s Greatest Hits. But instead of it smashing into a wall or machine, it hit Adam straight on the head, resulting instantly in a deep gash, and a big gush.
As the blood poured from Adam’s temple, Terry rushed over in a state of shock and remorse. ‘Are you OK? I’m so sorry! I really didn’t mean for that to happen!’ How would Adam respond?
Not in (justified) anger, not in (understandable) retaliation, but with (remarkable) love. He reassured Terry that he knew it was accidental, that he wasn’t angry, and that it was OK. In that instant, all the tension between these workmates dissipated, and within minutes, they were both laughing. Neither of them needed to say anything about the driving off incident and the proceeding text. Conversations about films, family, and faith resumed. Love covers a multitude of sins.
This incident spoke to Adam in a number of ways. It showed him that God really does listen and respond to prayer, though not always in ways that we expect, nor in ways that leave our bodies and egos undented. It showed him that God really does love the people on his frontline, and desires good for them. And it showed Adam that God loves him and can work through him to be an agent of the restoration that God longs to bring.