"I know this is late notice Ronnie, but we really want to paint Hope and Charlie's room before Christmas; we are having some built-ins brought in for their bedroom in a couple of weeks. Could you make room for us on your schedule?" I asked, secretly hoping he could use some extra Christmas cash.
"I can be there tomorrow if you will call me back with a paint color." was his reply. I could distinctly detect a hint of pep in his voice confirming my suspicions.
Smirking a bit as I hung up the phone I thought: "Yep, tis the season that everyone is looking for a little "moo-lah"; and better yet, another mark off of my "things to do before the end of the year" list."
1:30pm, always on time, Ronnie and one of his helpers show up at my front door ready to paint. I quickly ushered Hope and Charlie into the great room, put a baby gate up to block little fingers from wet paint, and opened a few windows to ventilate the house. Within minutes I could smell the job being done and sniffed in the satisfaction thinking how great the babies' room was going to look.
At 4:30pm, three hours from when he stepped into my front door, Ronnie called for me and told me the job had been completed. I quickly scooted to the baby gate to find him standing on the other side wearing a big ole grin.
Taking a quick peek to view the freshly painted walls, I asked: "How much do I owe you Ronnie?"
"uuuuuuhhhhmmmmm......I'm not going to charge you anything....and let me" he began, but I quickly interrupted: "Oh, no, Ronnie, I am going to pay you for this job...tell me what I owe you."
He answered softly: "Just let me explain."
Folding my arms, I tilted my head to search the eyes of this gentle man before me....crows feet firmly outline years spent in laughter and joy.....and Ronnie has a scruffy gray beard that moves with his mouth as he slowly speaks with a very distinctive country-sounding drawl that will endear you to him immediately. All ears and a bit taken off guard, I listened as he spoke:
"My daughter has M.S. you know, and there was a time when she was on life-support. That was a difficult time for my family, and friends brought over food and money to be a help to us. We didn't need it, so alot of times we would try to turn them away, but pretty soon we realized that people just wanted to bless us with something so we learned to accept it. Alot of those folks who gave us things didn't have as much as we did, Melanie, and that was humbling........And you know, I go to church every Sunday and alot of times the pews aren't filled. A few months ago I got to thinking....just wonderin' why. I believe the reason is because believers just don't show alot of love to one another. Now Melanie, ya'll are going through a tough time right now will all the uncertainty about Hope's little heart, and you know I love that little girl, so I want to show you all love. I don't have alot I can give you, and I know you can pay for this paint job without any problem at all, but I want to give you something I am able to give. This paint job is a gift of love to you and I want you to accept it."
With a baby gate separating us just above the knees, I reached out and grabbed that sweet man's neck and hugged him like he was Jesus Himself. I guess in that moment, He was as near a likeness to Jesus as any I have ever known. I hugged Ronnie tight for a long time while I cried. Still sobbing, I couldn't speak a word as he turned to leave saying: "Merry Christmas to you all."
God touches the world every day when we touch the world......I am thankful God touched my world today through a man named Ronnie Smith. ......"And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE." (1 Corinthians 13:13)