“Those birds can’t make up their minds whether to fly north or south,” he said as I was walking to my table in the coffee shop, “…they’re going around in circles.”
Thus began a strange and confusing conversation with a man who calls himself “Tiger.” He was out of the Army as a combat engineer but apparently had not seen combat. He was now at loose ends, living out of his car and delivering pizzas in the evenings. He was not completely broke since he was in a coffee shop but was about to leave for a bookstore where they served free coffee.
I asked him where he was from and he said, “Baytown.” But it turns out that he was from all over Texas and elsewhere. In short order I learned that he suffered from bone loss, damaged ligaments in his right arm and several industrial injuries. He had been married twice, had three children and had lost another son to murder.
“I consider myself a professional singer,” he told me at least twice. He had sung with several bands but it didn’t work out because he wouldn’t sing songs by Judas Priest for moral reasons. Nevertheless, he had tried to be an alcoholic like the rest of his band but was thwarted by an allergic reaction to alcohol.
Finally, I questioned him about his journey of faith. He had started out as an atheist because “something really bad” had happened to him and he decided there could not be a God. Then “another really bad thing happened” to him and he nearly died. He decided then there must really be a God because “He let me live.”
I asked him if he had been baptized. “Oh yes…several times,” he said.
“Several times?” I asked.
“Yep. Several times in different names…Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and in the name of Jesus only.”
“When I was seventeen I got the Holy Ghost at a Pentecostal church. But then I noticed how the church people were treating others,” and even though he didn’t lose faith in God, he lost faith in churches. Now he’s an attender of churches but member of none.
As the conversation continued, it was clear that Tiger’s mind is as confused as his life. As we talked, different, disconnected details kept emerging. “I try to forget the past, and press on to the future just like the Bible says.”
When I asked him about the future he told me he wanted to be a mercenary with the Israelis but he was vague about when and where. “I don’t think I can kill anyone,” he said, “but I can hand bullets to those who will.”
What will happen to the Tigers of this life? Is he destined to wander aimlessly taking life as it comes for good or ill just like those birds flying in circles? What will be the eternal destiny of those like him? I honestly don’t know. But maybe I was not there for him. Maybe I encountered Tiger so I could count my blessings. I left the coffee shop in my old, but trusty car I’ve never had to spend the night in. I drove to my comfortable home to eat a nutritious breakfast. I sat down in my comfortable chair at my computer to write this article. Later on I will talk with my beloved wife of 48 years. Today I will be doing meaningful and purposeful work in the kingdom. Thank you, Lord and thank you, Tiger. Point well taken.