No, not me and Bobby Mcgee. My good, old, lifelong friend Bobby. Bobby and I became friends when we were each probably 12 years old, and stayed close and in touch until I graduated university and went off into the Army.
We were city kids, Bobby and I. He had two parents; I had one. We were thugs and hooligans to be honest. I mean we were serious, no fake, hard drinking, drug ingesting, flee from the police thugs and hooligans. All the details of that don’t matter, as this is not one of those, “Hey look how rotten I was” things. We were rotten, but that is not the point.
The point is I grew out of it and my friend did not. I went to college, into the Army, and did all of the normal, successful grown up things. Bobby did not, and he more or less stayed 18 forever. He kept up the hooliganism, and it just never got better. Ultimately, he got himself shot as he fled from the bedroom of some guy’s wife. It didn’t kill him, though; it only paralyzed him from the waist down.
So, Bobby never even left his parents home; even in his condition he just kept doing what he did, which was smoke weed, hang out, and party.
We didn’t stay in touch much for almost 30 years, and we saw each other maybe two times. We saw each other at some funeral , and I went and saw him once when he got a bad staph infection. That was it for, as I said, almost 30 years.
It was shortly before Bobby died that I became a believer, and that is the point of this story, really. During a party my friend, wheelchair and all, managed to pick a fight. His opponent more or less picked him up, threw him down, and hurt him really bad. The problem was, he didn’t know he was hurt, developed a serious case of gangrene, and never said a word. My mom, who was friends with his mom, let me know. Basically he was fully aware and conscious, but was going to die. It was only matter of days before it got to vital organs, and that would be it.
Instantly I knew what I had to do; I had to go tell my friend about Jesus. Seriously this was a scary prospect for many reasons. His mother was a non practicing Catholic, his father had walked away from any faith he had 60 years before, his two brothers had not been much better than even the two of us had been. I knew they would all be there standing vigil, and I knew I was just going to walk in and just lay it all out there, as it would be the very last chance my friend would have. It was like walking into hostile territory as far as I knew.
I showed up, and we all had a pretty grand reunion to tell the truth. I knew it was time to let it fly. I tried to ignore the older brother wearing the biker jacket, and his mom too. I just said this: “Bobby, things have changed a lot, and I follow Jesus now. I’d like to talk to you about that.” My friend looked at me with a big smile and said, “I know, ain’t it great?” As I stood there rather shocked, his brother turned around to show me what was was on his leather jacket, which was John 3:16. Then his other older brother came in and preceded to tell us of all the prayer requests for the family from HIS church.
It turns out that during a 30 year gap, God had reached out and pulled to Him four of the least likely people on the face of the earth.
God knew that when He sent me to that hospital room. He made me do it anyway, likely just to see what I would do.
Bobby did pass just a few days after that. I hate that I missed 30 years with my friend, but I also know that I will see him again, and then we can hang out forever.