Set Free

This is another pawn shop story. We have a lot of those, but this is one of our favorites. One day while in central Texas, we stopped in. We wanted to look at their camping equipment, etc. In the display case was a hunting knife that caught my wife’s eye. We waited for an attendant. When he appeared, we just had to laugh. We knew right away why God had sent us to that pawn shop. The guy had white supremacy tattoos all over him. He made a few white supremacy comments while showing us the hunting knives.

Finally, my wife asked him about one of his tattoos. He proudly said he belonged to the devil. My wife shrugged. “Oh well. I guess you’re okay with choosing the losing side.” He countered with, “Oh, Satan isn’t losing.” She said, “It may seem like that now, but in the end, he definitely is the loser.” He said, “Ya’ll sound like my grandma. She says stuff like that.” We replied, “Grandma was telling you the truth. You ought to listen.” We bought the knife and left the store that day.

A couple of weeks later, we were in the same town and decided to stop back in. The same attendant was there, and he actually remembered us. He said, “Back to look at another knife?” To which we replied, “We thought we’d see what you had new since last time.” He said, “There are a couple of things you might be interested in. But, I can’t get ya’ll out of my head. What you said to me last time really stuck. I’ve been wanting to ask you something.” I guess our first meeting had more impact than we thought. He said, “I’m getting disgusted with all of this evil in my heart. I don’t want to belong to the devil anymore, but how do I get him to let me go?” We replied, “You can’t get him to let you go without help. You let him in, but you can’t kick him out. It takes one stronger than you and one stronger than him. Are you stronger than he is?” The attendant replied with a nervous laugh, “No way. He’s scary.” We replied, “The only way to remove his hold from you is to call on the One who can. And I think you know who that is. Remember Who your grandma told you about? Satan has already been defeated, and he knows it. But, he doesn’t want you to know it.” He said that someone had once told him that if he let God into his heart he would be freed. I said, “It’s not just any god. It’s the God. In your condition, only Jesus Christ can set you free. You have to call on His name.” He stumbled backward slightly and sat down on a stool. He said, “I thought so. I may be walking around free now, but, you see, I’m still in prison. My heart is still in prison, and the devil has the keys.” We explained to him that Jesus holds the keys—that He had earned that right by His death, burial, and resurrection, and that Satan did not want people to realize that fact.

He asked us to pray for him. We said we would and asked him if he had a Bible. He said he could get one easily enough but that no, he didn’t have one. We said we had an extra one, and would he like it? He said he would. We gave it to him and left, telling him that we would keep him in our prayers. Several months later, we walked into the same store to a strange scene and a strange greeting. This attendant was talking to an African-American woman. When he saw us walk in, he pointed to us and said loudly, “There they are!” We looked quite surprised. He told the woman, “They are the ones who told me how to be set free.” We looked down at where his hands were on the display case. The Bible we had given him was open. He began to tell us that he had been telling the woman that she could be set free also from the things that bound her heart.

Just a few months ago, this same attendant proudly said he belonged to the devil. He wasn’t witnessing to just anybody, but to someone who represented the target of his prior hatred and anger. God can truly change hearts and set people free. He did for this man. We were in contact with him many more times over the next couple of years. His whole demeanor had changed. On one of these occasions, he shared with us that he had a son who was about nine years old. He said that he had decided that he needed to be part of the boy’s life and was actually taking him camping that weekend. He said, “My life has completely changed, and I have something to offer him now. I’m looking forward to being a good dad. I just wish I didn’t have all these tattoos.” What he once wore proudly, he now tried to keep covered.

We said, “We all have our scars. Some are more visible than others. Some will fade, some we’ll carry forever.” He said, “Someday I’ll have to explain mine to my son.” The shame could be seen in his face. We said, “Let God guide you through that valley when the time comes. He’ll give you the words.” He replied, “I know.” We bid him farewell and went on our way. Shortly after that, we left for an extended period of time out of state. Upon our return, he was no longer working at that pawn shop, and we haven’t seen him since.

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