My wife and I parked at a trailhead the same time as a young man with a distorted gate. He was covered in tattoos. I assumed he was on drugs, so we tried to distance ourselves from him. But he struggled hard to catch up and wanted to talk some. We slowed down. He said he was recovering from a bad time in his life. And yes, we found he did lots of drugs! We politely left him in the dust, heading up river. An hour later we turned back because a flash flood had taken out the trail bridge.
There he was again, laboring up the trail wanting to engage us. He also turned to follow us back. He shared a little more of his story. He lost his mother and sister in a car accident and he was permanently and horribly injured too. We slowed down to the hobble he could manage for the whole way back to the trailhead.
He continued… “During much surgery and pain I came to hate God for taking my good sister and mom and this painful disfigurement. Insurance money kept me in all the drugs I wanted. I was about dead from an overdose when this happened…”
He pulled up his shirt to show us a massive life size tattoo from neck to waist. It was two angels in a brilliant light beckoning to him. He pointed… “This is my sister and this is my mom. They told me to stop hating everything and doing drugs. They loved me just as God always had and wanted me to live in love too!”
He excitedly explained that the brilliantly colored tattoo was the exact vision he had that day. He stopped doing all drugs and started to love people more and live a good life. My prejudice melted away. It had painted a wrong picture of this wonderful person with a beautiful message. He bubbled about the magnificence of an experience he could hardly describe. We had dinner together and sang Johnny Cash songs around a warm campfire that wasn’t even lit. He stayed the night in our camper and we parted the next day.
I learned more than he hoped to tell… not the least of which is the title of this true tale. May it also warm your heart.