Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1
Little Jack Horner may have sat in a corner…but this time he didn’t. It was the late seventies, and we were living in Western Germany. I was serving in the Air Force and my wife Judy and I were having the time of our lives. We were still newlyweds and every day, and everything seemed to be an adventure. Even church stuff. God was and is a big part of our lives and that was true way back then too. We were blessed to have a great church family in Germany, and you might say we were up to our eyes involved. One of the things that we would do is go and visit people who came to church and visited us.
On one occasion a lady came to visit our church and we decided to return the favor. Her name was Carol Horner and she served in the Army. She was married but her husband didn’t do the church thing. He had a thing…it just wasn’t church. One Tuesday night we decided that we would go see Carol. Virtually no one had a phone in Germany, and this was long before cell phones so when we went to see someone, it was usually…unannounced. It’s funny but that sounds so strange today but back then it’s kind of what you did.
Carol and her stay-at-home husband lived on our base so that Tuesday we headed out to find their apartment. The housing on base consisted of several large multi-floor buildings. We found the building, which stairwell and away we went. After climbing several flights of stairs, we found ourselves at Carol’s door. We knocked. Soon we could hear the sound of feet, so we at least knew someone was home. Well, the door opened, a little, and there was the face of Carol. We were bubbly and she was surprised…and, uh, a little apprehensive.
She knew who we were, we had met at church, and we told her we were just out visiting folks and would like to come in for a few minutes. She hesitated, suggesting maybe it wasn’t a good time, but Mr. and Mrs. Bubbles, politely pressed the cause and after a minute or two Carol explained her hesitation. It turns out that her husband Jack, was, uh, a nudist and actually, at that moment he was sitting in the living room…eating spaghetti and dressed only with a dinner napkin. I know you are thinking this couldn’t be true…but it was. And, what happened next, is too.
We were persistent that night, maybe too persistent, and suggested maybe Jack would be willing to get dressed so we could visit. She checked and he finally agreed to lay a dish towel across his lap. We went in to find, Jack, who definitely was not little, with a small dish towel on his lap, joyfully eating a plate full of spaghetti on a TV tray. Though he didn’t miss a beat…we might have. Have you ever heard about the white elephant in the room? Well, that night there was definitely a white elephant in the room.
We chatted, ok, we tried to chat with Carol as Jack smacked and slurped his spaghetti down. It seems he did make one or two comments about his choice of clothing, or lack thereof, but other than that he ignored us as we tried to return the favor. Well, we didn’t stay too long and soon it was time to call it a night. We told Jack it was good to meet him and was grateful he didn’t stand up as we left. Carol showed us to the door and there she told us that she was grateful that we came by. I’m sure because of the circumstances she didn’t get a lot of company. We had a short prayer with her and said goodnight.
As I remember she became a regular attender at our church and no, Jack, never did. I’m sure he couldn’t decide what to wear. Smile. Two things were true about that night. First, of all the visits Judy and I have made through the years, nothing ever came close to Jack Horner and his towel. To this day, he occasionally comes up in our conversation when we have spaghetti. Second, though, is something more important. Somehow, some way, Judy and I got something right that night. We managed not to judge Jack and to make Carol feel welcomed and appreciated.
Being humans, we don’t always get it right, do we? But that night reminds me that people are just people and regardless of how crazy it might seem, we just need to leave the judging to the Judge and leave the stones on the ground where they belong. Jesus said that if we are wise enough not to judge we will find that people are less likely to judge us. That’s good advice. I don’t remember Judy and I gossiping about Jack. I don’t believe there were harsh whispers as we descended the stairs but there probably were some smiles and giggles. You see, you just never know what you will find on a Tuesday night. As I think of Jack sitting in his chair that night, I am reminded of one thing. No matter what, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne