It was the first time being invited to the Grayson’s home. Boots was nervous. It was a big house; they had money. In the basement were many of the things he wished he had; pool table, color TV, stereo, a ping pong table, and a bar and refrigerator with just snacks and refreshments.
Tim Grayson was his friend at school, he was rich and popular. Boots’ family was not so fortunate and he always carried around with him the fear that someone might exploit his disadvantage. Boots felt as though he was living the life of a fraud about to be found out.
Boots and Tim were shooting pool. The door leading to the basement swung open.
“I got the winner!” said the legs coming down the steps.
“My dad,” Tim said. “He’s a lot of fun.”
When Tim’s dad was in full view Boots was paralyzed. Boots knew him.
“Hey,” I know you Mr. Grayson said. “You lived close to our grocery. You came in all the time. I wondered what every happened to you. Everybody said you and your family moved away.”
Mr. Grayson shook Boots’ hand. “It sure is good to see you. I knew Tim was having somebody over, but I didn’t know it was somebody I knew.” Mr. Grayson turned to Tim, “One of the kids from the neighborhood.”
Boots lost the match to Tim and he watched father and son play.
Boots remembered well Grayson’s Grocery. He remembered Mr. Grayson. He was always nice to Boots. But Boots could not forget the last day he was in the grocery.
It was near the end of winter about three years earlier. Older boys dared Boots to go into Grayson’s and steal a box of chocolates. Boots wanted to impress the older boys. He successfully hid the box of chocolates beneath his coat and made it out the door without paying, and to his greedy friends. They gorged themselves on the chocolate until they were nauseous.
Boots, although never caught, could never return to the grocery. He could not look into Mr. Grayson’s eyes; a fair man, a generous man, a friendly man, a kind man.
Now he was in that man’s basement with a heavy conscience with no outlet. He never felt so shamed and unworthy in all his fifteen years.
Mr. Grayson pocketed the 8-ball to beat Tim. Tim ran up the steps to use the bathroom.
Now there was just Boots and Mr. Grayson in the basement.
“Rack ‘em!” Mr. Grayson said and added lightheartedly, “And I’ll put on an exhibition for you.”
Boots sat in a chair as if Mr. Grayson never said a word.
“Are you okay?” Mr. Grayson said.
“No, sir,” Boots said. “I think I should go home.”
“Let me drive you,” Mr. Grayson said.
“No,” Boots said and started to climb the steps.
“Wait a minute, son,” Mr. Grayson said concerned. “Did Tim and I say or do something to upset you.”
“No, sir,” Boots said. “I just don’t feel well.”
Mr. Grayson walked to the steps.
Boots turned around. “Tell Tim thanks for inviting me.”
“Come back down here for a minute,” Mr. Grayson said. “And tell me what’s eating you.”
Boots slowly walked back down the steps. He reached in his billfold and pulled out three dollars and handed it to Mr. Grayson. “This is yours.”
Mr. Grayson looked at the money in Boots’ hand without taking it. “I have no idea what this is about,” Mr. Grayson said. “You don’t owe me anything.”
“It was about three years ago,” Boots sniffed and wiped his eyes. “I stole a box of candy from your store. I think it cost $2.99.”
“That’s why you wouldn’t come back in?” Mr. Grayson said.
“Yeah,” Boots said. “I got away with it, but I really didn’t.”
“You’ve carried this around with you all this time?” Mr. Grayson said.
“It’s not like I thought about it all the time,” Boots said. “I didn’t know Tim was your son. If I knew that I wouldn’t have come. I can’t face you.”
“Why didn’t you just come in and pay me?” Mr. Grayson said.
“I was ashamed,” Boots said. “I knew you like me and I wanted to leave it that way. I didn’t want you to think of me as a thief. Money couldn’t win back the trust you had in me. I think Tim can find a better friend than me.”
Mr. Grayson lowered his head and looked into Boots’ eyes. He studied them for a moment and placed his hand on Boot’s shoulder. “Tim couldn’t fine a better friend and any friend of Tim’s is a friend of mine.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Grayson,” Boots sobbed. “I’m sorry.”
Mr. pulled Boots to his shoulder and let him sob. “It’s okay son. It’s forgiven and forgotten. We will never talk or think about it again.”
Boots and Mr. Grayson heard the toilet flush and the water run.
“Rack ‘em,” Mr Grayson smiled.
Tim regained his composure and began to rack the balls as Tim rushed down the steps.
Immediately Tim looked into Boots’ eyes. “You look like you’ve been crying.”
Mr. Grayson immediately said. “Didn’t you hear Boots sneezing up a storm? He got a hand full of baby powder and clapped his hands together; poof a snoot full of talc.”
(This illustrates in a practical way the Christian ransom provision. Because of original sin mankind can not face God, but salvation and friendship with Him can not be earned on our own merits. It can only be accomplished through a relationship with the son; on that basis sins are forgiven and never called to mind.)