Last evening, at the edge of a town some distance from here, I drove past a small vacant house sitting next to a decrepit barn. It had once been Leslie’s house – and barn. Driving past that place made me weep and reminded me that I need to tell you the…




‘The Carl and Leslie Story’ is actually two stories. It is the story of Carl, and, it is the story of Leslie. Carl and Leslie were totally unknown to each other. Their stories also, are totally unrelated to each other. ‘The Carl and Leslie Story’ is an account of how the Holy Spirit brought these two stories together one dark Saturday afternoon to teach me one very important lesson.


The Carl story: I was in my early twenties; newly removed from my conservative home life; newly arrived in a big city and a new big church. Carl’s family sensed my loneliness, opened their hearts and their refrigerator to me. Carl’s mother was excited to have another mouth at Sunday dinner; Carl and his siblings were eager to show me how to get acclimated to my new surroundings. In exchange, I was eager to share my past and my insights with my new family.


Carl, however, was different from the rest of the family. Maybe it was because he was younger and not as aware of the message of Christ and the church we were a part of. Maybe it was because Carl had three passions in life; building an Atlas body, fast cars, and girls; and not necessarily in that order. I tried several times to talk to Carl about Jesus and voted him ‘most likely’ to backslide. Like I said, Carl had three passions in his life; Jesus was not on his radar screen.


Life went on; I moved from the city; Carl married one of those girls, used his big body to advantage as an MP and eventually became a guard at a prison; most of the time, I lost track of where he was or what he was doing.


The Leslie story: I was working in a factory. Leslie wandered by my workbench and we struck up a series of conversations. Leslie was eager and evidently hungry. Over some time, I added bits and pieces to a steady spiritual diet. More than that, we became friends. He and his wife invited us to supper and we shared a wonderful evening. Life was good; the Spirit was moving and all was well in my world. I was totally oblivious to the depth of hurt in Leslie’s world.


One morning Leslie came to work with a black eye. Thinking of it as a joke, I blithely said, “What’s the matter, did she hit ya?


Leslie’s reaction was swift and full of bile. “Yes, but she won’t get the chance to do it again.”


He wandered of to his workstation, leaving me troubled yet unable to know how to further proceed. I went home at the end of my shift without any further contact with Leslie.


When I arrived at work the next morning, and before I got far inside the front door, I immediately sensed that something was seriously amiss. None of the machinery was running and everybody was standing in little somber circles and talking quietly. “Oh, you haven’t heard,” they tell me. “They found Leslie hanging in his barn last night.”


It took less than two seconds to go from ‘all’s well’ to the darkest night of my soul. I don’t know which was worst; feeling that I had seriously betrayed my friend or feeling that God had seriously betrayed me. All the ‘could’ve, would’ve and should’ves’ became a load bigger than I was able to carry. I was angry. I was not only angry, I was consumed with anger. I was too angry to go to a funeral or reach out to a grieving widow. I was too angry to pray or read my Bible. I settled into a funk that threatened to consume me and now its Saturday afternoon.


It’s a dark Saturday afternoon and the phone rings. “Hi! It’s Carl. I’m out at the gas station on the highway and wondered if I could stop by for a few minutes.”


Carl walked into my living room a few minutes later, wrapped those massive arms around me and gave me the bear hug of a lifetime. And then that big guy backed up; tears started forming at the corners of his eyes; his lower lip did this little twitch, twitch, twitch thing. Carl let out a sob and explained that he just somehow couldn’t drive through my town today without stopping and telling me how much my past testimony had meant to him.


After he left I opened my Bible. It fell open at Ecclesiastes eleven and I started reading….


As you do not know the path of the wind,

Or how the body is formed in the mother’s womb,

So you cannot understand the work of God,

And the maker of all things.


Sow your seed in the morning,

And at evening

Let not your hands be idle,

For you do not know which will succeed,

Whether this or that,

Or whether both will be equally well.


The Story of Carl and Leslie is actually two stories: Two stories that the Holy Spirit brought together one dark Saturday afternoon to teach me one very important lesson.



Jonas J. Borntreger

© Nov. 2007 JJB