Story Online: THE LOST BILLFOLD LED ME – by Dr. John Shackelford

Disruption or Divine Intervention?

I could return the billfold across the street

I could return the billfold across the street

Thirteen year old Ginger left quickly at the end of our counseling session. An hour later I noticed her billfold between the cushions. The family lived out of town, and she would need her billfold. I was irritated at the inconvenience. Then I remembered her mother worked at the nursing home nearby. I could drop the keys off for her mom and be out in of there in two minutes.

Buzzed through the home’s security doors, I hurried down the hall toward the nursing station. Along the way, a wall listed patient names and one name caught my attention.

Earl Flanary. My pace slowed. Earl Flanary. I stopped, as in some kind of memory trance. I pictured big Earl in his worn farmer overalls the way I remembered him as a childhood friend of my late father.

Memories of dad and Earl came my mind. I recalled a day when I was nine-year-old and sat in church with dad. The preacher asked everyone to come forward who wanted to know Jesus. I wanted to be “saved”, but was afraid to walk the aisle. I quickly devised an alternate plan. I decided to “be good enough” to go to heaven and avoid that intimidating walk with everyone looking.

Another day Dad and I did chores. He said going to heaven wasn’t about being good. “My friend, Earl, is a really good man,” he said. “He’d give you the shirt off his back. But he’s not a believer. He has no assurance of heaven.”

I was sad and concerned for Earl. Then I realized my “be good enough” plan wouldn’t fly. So, I chose to walk that scary aisle with my sister. Nine years after that decisive day, Dad died of a heart attack.

Several years later I learned that Earl had trusted Christ.

“Can I help you?” The aid’s voice snapped me back to the present.

“Yes, I want to visit Earl Flanary,” I heard myself say.

Entering the ninety year old’s room, I touched his shoulder, “Earl, its John Shackelford.”

His eyes opened quickly and he flashed a warm smile of recognition. After asking how he was doing, we chatted about old times. As I prepared to go, an idea came to mind. Afterall, if you can’t ask a personal favor of a man who loved your father, who can you ask?

“Earl,” I said, and his gaze met mine, “Would you do me a favor?”

He looked puzzled so I went on, “Earl, when you get to heaven, would you say ‘Hello’ to my Daddy?”

Earl said, “I will.”

Leaving the nursing home that day, I smiled and realized that Ginger forgetting her billfold was no accident. It was God’s clever way of leading me to Earl Flanary. Two weeks later, I heard that Earl had passed and felt confident he delivered my message.

I bet my Daddy smiled too.

by John F. Shackelford, Psy.D.,

Dr. Shackelford is a psychologist in Richardson, Texas who has special interest in the interplay between the ego and spiritual development.

© John Shackelford, Psy. D. 2012

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About Janna Longfellow Hughes

Stories Online and Free Tips for Writing and Videoing Your Story, Expert Interviews and Online help from retired True Story Producer Janna Longfellow Hughes.

8 Responses to “Story Online: THE LOST BILLFOLD LED ME – by Dr. John Shackelford”

  1. Janna Longfellow Hughes Reply December 19, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Dr. John, thanks for sharing this personal story. Wonder how many times an apparent disruption is really divine intervention?

  2. Love how God works. Enjoyed your story of his working and the joy that brings.

  3. What a wonderful and heartwarming story! “Above all watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Roald Dahl.

    • Janna Longfellow Hughes Reply December 17, 2013 at 10:20 pm

      “Greatest secrets hidden in unlikely places”. I love that. Your words encourage us to live every moment with the realization that the smallest detail of our lives can turn into something big. The most seemingly insignificant interaction can touch us or someone else in a profound way. Thx for sharing!

  4. Glad you enjoyed it. Oh that we might open our eyes and see what God is doing around us every day.

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