"Old" Leonard was a crippled man. He spent most of his time in a wheel chair, and in a nursing home. He was also profoundly deaf. He had a speaker box with a microphone attached, and when he communicated with someone, he’d hand them the microphone and put the box to his ear. The Sunday afternoon that I met him, I was midway through my message at the nursing home he resided in, when he came rolling in. He was yelling and cursing and kicked some of the folding chairs over. I remember my kids being scared. I ended the service early, helped get some of the residents back to their rooms, and left with our team of helpers. Old Leonard didn’t want to hear about God, and made sure we understood that. Hand him a Gospel tract, and he’d tear it up, mention Jesus, and he’d blaspheme his name. Life had dealt Old Leonard a bad hand, and he was bitter about it.
The following Wednesday our youth pastor went to the nursing home with a group of teens. This was a monthly ministry for the youth group. He too attempted to share the Gospel message with Leonard and was met with the same resistance. Old Leonard made such an impression on the youth pastor that he made a decision to avoid him the following month. Pastor B. told me later that as he approached the nursing home, God placed Leonard on his mind, but pastor B. had already decided that he would not speak with Leonard unless he was sitting in the entrance. However, God knew this, and placed Leonard right in the doorway. He couldn't be avoided. Pastor B. asked Leonard if he had read the tract he gave him a month ago (he apparently took that one) and Leonard replied that he had read it, and that he needed to be saved. Pastor B. spent time with Leonard that evening sharing the Scriptures, and Leonard was saved. Tears are welling up as I share this with you.
Immediately after Leonard’s conversion, he began reading his Bible and coming to church each Sunday and Wednesday. He wanted to serve the Lord, so someone would pick him up on Mondays, and he would polish the pews in our approximately 600 seat auditorium. He’d wheel in, park next to a pew, slide in with a rag in one hand and a can of Pledge in the other, and polish away until they were all done. Leonard was part of our church family for about six months before he died.
My wife and I remember picking up "Old" Leonard, or rather, the "new" Leonard, to take him to church. Leonard would say something like, “The Lord spoke to me this morning.” My wife and I would look at each other and wonder what he would say next, but he always related something God had spoken to him about from the Word that morning. One evening at church, during the middle of our pastor’s sermon, Leonard painstakingly hobbled his way out of the pew and into the center isle, then proceeded to take out his camera, which he fumbled with for a few minutes before taking a picture of our pastor behind the pulpit. Distracting? It sure was. Another time, Leonard heard our pastor mention that the offerings had been down and we should all pray for God’s provision for the needs of the ministry. A couple of week’s later, boxes of pencils arrived at the church with the church name on each one. Leonard had purchased them with the intent to sell them to help the church meet its financial obligations.
I mention this story for this reason. No one has taught me more about motives than Old Leonard. Why did Leonard distract the church service to take a picture of his pastor? I don’t know, and I can’t know for sure, but I believe he loved his pastor. Why did Leonard buy pencils to sell? I mean, didn't he fully understand the Biblical principles of giving? My guess is he didn't know as he was still a young Christian.
Lesson: Judging peoples motives gives you two answers to question that begin with the word, “Why”. One answer condemns the person for blatant disobedience to God. The other answer commends a person for his love to God.