Yesterday morning, my Facebook feed carried the shocking news that a former radio colleague had died. I knew he hadn’t been well and had been in and out of hospital, but he was posting upbeat messages on Facebook last week. Then his partner posted the news this morning.
Mike and I worked together for the better part of two years at CKNW radio in Vancouver. He was considerably older than me, but we were both veterans in the business, and we would commiserate about the state of radio and the “good old days”. Sadly, I didn’t know very much at the time about his “previous life” in Toronto — I learned from other friends who had known him then, that he was very well-respected.
But there were times when Mike’s attitude towards the workplace got to be, shall we say, de trop. He would gripe about management, the lack of experience of some reporters, and the diminishing importance of the newsroom. None of it was new stuff, and I’m sure I contributed my share, too, but it did lead me to say to the Lord on more than one occasion, “Why have You put me here? Why do I have to work with this guy?”
As He so often does, He waited until an appropriate time before answering.
I was ministering at Rainbow Mission on the Downtown East Side at the time, and one of the things I was determined to do, was get a Bible into as many hands as I could. You’ve read it here before: read the book, and learn for yourself about Jesus!
So, sitting in my “nanny suite” I was renting in Surrey at the time, I looked at a stack of Bibles on the coffee table. They had been donated by the Canadian Bible Society, to be passed out. And I heard a prompt in the Spirit, “Give one of those to Mike.”
Immediately, I started to fight the idea. You know how it is, when you get prompted to do something that takes you out of your comfort zone. What would Mike think? Would he think I was trying to convert him? Would he think I was going to make a “project” out of him to lead him — no, drag him — to the Lord? Would he take offence, thinking that because he was gay, I figured he needed to read the Word of God?
(NB: That would be Satan, trying his hardest to keep someone from obeying God and someone else from getting closer to the Word.)
I took a step. I grabbed a Bible and wrote in the flyleaf, “To my friend Mike. May this bless you in ways neither of us could imagine!”
I took it to work for our next shift. Our station was the “flagship” for a network of stations that had, to put it bluntly, taken a chainsaw to their budgets and the first thing to go was a local newsroom. I handled the local newscasts for Vancouver; Mike was in charge of the network newscasts.
That morning, I waited for an appropriate time, the Bible discreetly tucked behind my computer screen. People came in and out; the weekend beat reporter came in and got her assignments, chatted with Mike for a bit, then left. Finally, around about the noon newscast, which would be his last for the day, I took a deep breath and rolled my chair over to his workstation.
“I wanted you to have this,” I said, as timidly as I ever speak.
His reaction blew me away. “Thank you!” he said. “We have one around … somewhere … but I haven’t read it in ages! And look: it’s even got a ribbon bookmark!”
One thing I knew about Mike was, he was sincere. He genuinely appreciated the gift. I can’t speak for Mike, but I spent the rest of the day awash in a real sense of joy.
The next day, we were at work and our weekend reporter came in to pick up her assignments.
“So how was your birthday celebration last night, Mike?”
My eyes tripled in size — at least, they felt like it.
“I didn’t know it was his birthday,” I said to the Lord.
“No, but I did.”
Mike and I did enjoy a good working relationship — the “problems” I had with Mike’s personality were largely my problem. One day, we were talking about the tasks we had earlier in our careers, and Mike told me one of his — back in about 1960 or so — was to play the recorded religious program from “some English guy out of California who died a few years before.” I realized that was my grandfather’s show, still making the rounds of syndication.
When the station decided to purge its newsroom of experienced talent, Mike and I hung in there together on the six-week Prelude To The Inevitable (or “probation” as the news director called it).
When a person dies, you sometimes hear someone say, “Did he know the Lord?” That smart, I’m not. But this I can say: the Lord knows Mike, and loves him so much that He would make sure that His word was close to hand.
As He does for us all.