"But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel."
The man sitting on our tattered green couch looked frustratingly familiar. He introduced himself and his teenage son as our new home teachers, and I had seen him around the church building a few times, but I was sure I knew him from somewhere else.
I studied him, noting his short blond hair and faded blue eyes, and guessed that he was probably around my age. Then, when he mentioned his old high school, my old high school, I began to suspect. As soon as the door closed behind them, I dug out my yearbooks to confirm what I already knew. It was him, and he didn't seem to remember me.
But then, why would he? Although the incident at the football game had been important to me, it had probably meant nothing to him.
I saw him everyday the first semester of my freshman year. We passed in the crowded hallway after Algebra, and after a few weeks I found myself looking forward to seeing his handsome face each day. Eventually he smiled at me--one of those shy smiles that sent my heart thudding against the books I hugged to my chest.
The next day he stopped me in the middle of the hall, people shoving past us on all sides, and asked if I'd like to meet him at the football game that night. My mouth felt dry; I didn't trust any sound to come out without squeaking, so I nodded. I was rewarded with another smile.
"See ya tonight."
My hands shook as I showed the gate attendant my ID card. I peered around him, trying to catch a glimpse of the bleachers while he counted out the change from my entry fee. Shoving the bills in my pocket, I walked toward the field, worried that he wouldn't show.
But when I reached the bleachers, he stood and jogged down the steps to reach me. We walked together back to where he'd been sitting with a group of his friends.
"You look great." He gave me that smile again.
I sat on the cold metal bench, mumbled a thank you and wiped my sweaty hands on my jeans.
He straddled the bench so he was facing me. "Do you want a smoke?"
My stomach began to protest my dinner. I looked from my hands to his smiling, handsome face and swallowed nervously. Around us, some of his friends had already lit up and the acrid smell of smoke began to drift over me. I felt a tickle in my lungs as the smoke triggered my asthma; I scratched at my throat. "I guess not."
"Oh." His wonderful smile disappeared as he moved to face forward. "Well, I do."
Not knowing what else to do, I stood up and walked back down the bleachers. He didn't try to stop me.
No. He had no reason to remember me. But that night was the first time anyone had so openly asked me to do something I knew was wrong. So I remembered.
And now fifteen years later, he was my home teacher. A faithful, concerned home teacher, as it turned out, who brought us chocolate chip cookies and Oreos.
Evidence that the Lord gives each of his children a chance to return and repent.