In 1943, Jose Carrillo Valdez came home from his war a broken man with little promise. His legs had been all but destroyed in a grenade explosion which had an almost ridiculous cause. A rookie pulled the pin and then dropped it on his backswing for the throw toward enemy lines.
Jose was mustered out with a check for $1,100; it was more money than he ever had in his life. Jose knew that he could spend it in a month and have nothing left.
Down the street, Mrs. Johnson felt she had less than nothing. Her son, Sammy, did not come home. His sedan had been sitting in the driveway for only six weeks when he left for the front. Then the Ford staff car from the Army showed up at the curb. On that day her life changed forever. Mrs. Johnson needed money and needed it right away. Although it was a very expensive proposition at $900, Jose bought Sammy’s car. He could have bought an almost-new Plymouth Deluxe for $885, but he wanted to help Mrs. Johnson. In the years ahead Jose would father seven children with three wives who suffered through each of their relationships, wrecked by a war that would not go away in Jose’s mind.
In 2006 at the age of 88, Jose passed away. His son Jose Jr. was given the task of cleaning out the house and the garage. He hadn’t been in either for many years. Junior was just as estranged from his father as his six half-brothers and sisters. Jose Sr. passed into eternity still suffering from PTSD and survivor syndrome. The will named Junior as the executor; his “pay” would become misery and conflict as the heirs from Jose’s era converged on Junior’s life like the rush of Black Friday shoppers at a Walmart. Jose had directed Junior be paid for his troubles. The car under the cover in the garage was to be his, whatever it was. Junior sluffed it off and didn’t even look at the car for two months.
When Junior finally pulled the cover off, he knew something unusual was in store. He had never seen a car like the one that presented itself at that moment. Junior spent hours trying to find out about it on the Internet. He got close several times but the ones he found were missing something which this one had. The doors opened up instead of side-to-side. He couldn’t even find a picture of it. The 1936 Cords he found in the same condition as his father’s were selling for $50,000. This gull-wing version was so rare that he couldn’t even find someone who had ever seen one. In 2015, the car was rolled out at the Monterey Classic. It sold at auction for $2,350,000.
The dusty garage was filled with an item of potential. In there, under its cover, it was nothing. Until it was brought out into the light of day and shown to others, it had no value. Our faith is just like the 1936 Cord. Left closed up, it has value to us but not sharing it diminishes its potential for others.
During this Christmas season we will gather with many others. This is the time. When you go into a room filled with those celebrating, find the one in the corner; the one staring over the top of his or her glass. Alone, perhaps afraid, perhaps just lost, of no importance, they wait for anything interesting to happen. You be that interesting happening. No one else is going to bother with them. It is up to you. Share the love of Christ in the light of day.