Andrews was a big, awkward, homely guy. He dressed
oddly with ill-fitting clothes. There were several
fellows who thought it smart to make fun of him. One
day one fellow noticed a small tear in his shirt and
gave it a small rip. Another worker in the factory
added his bit, and before long there was quite a
went on about his work and as he passed too near a
moving belt the shirt strip was sucked into the
machinery. In a split second the sleeve and Bill were
in trouble. Alarms were sounded, switches pulled, and
trouble was avoided. The foreman, however, aware of
what had happened, summoned the men and related this
younger days I worked in a small factory. That's
where I first met Mike Havoc. He was big and witty, was always making jokes, and playing little pranks.
Mike was a leader. Then there was Pete Lumas who was
a follower. He always went along with Mike.
then there was a man named . . . Jake. He was a
little older than the rest of us - - quiet, harmless,
apart. He always ate his lunch by himself. He wore
the same patched trousers for three years straight.
He never entered into the games we played at noon,
wrestling, horse shoes and such. He appeared to be
indifferent, always sitting quietly alone under a
was a natural target for practical jokes. He might
find a live frog in his dinner pail, or a dead rodent
in his hat. But he always took it in good humor.
Then one Fall when things were slack, Mike took
off a few days to go hunting. Pete went along, of
course. And they promised all of us that if they got
anything they'd bring us each a piece.
were all quite excited when we heard that they'd
returned and that Mike had got a really nice big buck.
We heard more than that. Pete could never keep
anything to himself, and it leaked out that they had
a real hopper to play on Jake. Mike had cut up the
critter and had made a nice package for each of us.
for the laugh, for the joke of it, he had saved the
ears, the tail, the hoofs - - it would be so funny
when Jake unwrapped them. "Mike distributed his
packages during the noon hour. We each got a nice
piece, opened it, and thanked him. The biggest
package of all he saved until last. It was for Jake.
was all but bursting; and Mike looked very smug. Like
always, Jake sat by himself; he was on the far side
of the big table. Mike pushed the package over to
where he could reach it; and we all sat and waited.
Jake was never one to say much. You might never know
that he was around for all the talking he did. In
three years he'd never said a hundred words.
were all quite astounded with what happened next.
"He took the package firmly in his grip and rose
slowly to his feet. He smiled broadly at Mike - - and
it was then we noticed that his eyes were glistening.
His Adam's apple bobbed up and down for a moment and
then he got control of himself. "I knew you
wouldn't forget me," he said gratefully; "I
knew you'd come through! You're big and you're
playful, but I knew all along that you had a good
swallowed again, and then took in the rest of us.
"I know I haven't seemed too chummy with you
men; but I never meant to be rude. You see, I've got
nine kids at home - - and a wife that's been an
invalid - - bedfast now for four years.
She ain't ever going to get any better. And sometimes when she's
real bad off, I have to sit up all night to take care
of her. And most of my wages have had to go for
doctors and medicine. The kids do all they can to
help out, but at times it's been hard to keep food in
you think it's funny that I go off by myself to eat
my dinner. Well, I guess I've been a little ashamed,
because I don't always have anything between my
sandwich. Or like today - - maybe there's only a raw
turnip in my pail. But I want you to know that this
meat really means a lot to me. Maybe more than to
anybody here because tonight my kids," he wiped
the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand,
"...tonight my kids will have a really..." he tugged at the string.
been watching Jake so intently we hadn't paid much
notice to Mike and Pete. But we all noticed them now,
because they both dove at once to try to grab the
package. But they were too late. Jake had broken the
wrapper and was already surveying his present. He
examined each hoof, each ear, and then he held up the
tail. It wiggled limply. It should have been so
funny, but nobody laughed - - nobody at all.
hardest part was when Jake looked up and said thank
you while trying to smile. Silently one by one each
man moved forward carrying his package and quietly
placed it in front of Jake for they had suddenly
realized how little their own gift had really meant
to them ... until now....
was where the foreman left the story and the men. He
didn't need to say anymore; but it was gratifying to
notice that as each man ate his lunch that day, they
shared part with Bill Andrews and one fellow even
took off his shirt and gave it to him.
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn
not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye
shall be forgiven.
Often we play what
is known as these harmless jokes without realizing the consequences
or the burdens that a person is carrying.
We all have burdens that we carry in our sack and unfortunately most
of us are unwilling or reluctant to leave them at the altar. We
must pray and support those that carry burdens, that is why God gave
us 2 ears and 1 mouth.