A couple weeks ago, I (Bob W.) read an article contrasting Johnny Barnes, Bermuda’s famously loving & joyful Christian greeter; with India’s Datta Phuge, “the gold man of Pune” with his $250,000 shirt made of pure gold.
The obituary/article in this very secular magazine tells the stories behind both men, who both happen to have died last month. It’s worth a read. It has been one of those occasional stories that comes to mind again and again, long after reading it.
For this blog, I’ll focus on the conclusion, where the author writes:
“The moral of the tale seems almost too easy to draw: the selfish flaunter of happiness (murder victim Datta Phuge), weighed down by gold, came to an awful end, while the selfless one, wearing his prodigious love so lightly (Johnny Barnes), was praised and lamented.
Both men, though, left behind a deficit of magic. After Mr Phuge died, no one could find the wonderful gold shirt. It was not in the house, nor at Ranka Jewellers; rumour had it that a creditor from Mumbai had taken it away. As for Mr Barnes, people searched up and down, far and wide, for the true secret of his happiness; for that, too, had disappeared with him.”
But has the true secret of Mr. Barnes contagious joy REALLY disappeared with him?
In the article, the source of Mr. Barnes’ joy is obvious to anyone with discernment to see it:
- “the genuine joy in the life God had blessed him with…“
- “often prayed with his visitors beside the road…“
- “death… in the firm conviction he was heading home…“
Faith. Gratitude to God. Loving his neighbors as himself.
I doubt many of us are called of God to spend our days telling passing rush-hour motorists how sweet life is and how much we love them, as Mr. Barnes was. But the questions for me, and anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ, are:
- Is MY faith in Christ like “a spring of water welling up to eternal life”? (John 4:7-14)
- Do I want to make a habit of looking for God’s blessings, in the routine, the good, and the bad times… and to give Him thanks?
- Am I willing to tell others the true secret of happiness?