This morning on my commute to work I experienced a different facet of my roadside ministry. While I have not blogged about most of my roadside discipling encounters (in an effort to be true to Matthew 6), almost all of the reactions to the physical assistance and spiritual reference have ranged from belated happiness/thankfulness to ambivalence. To date I have not had someone outright deny or reject the assistance or message I am conveying. That all changed this morning.
I happened to be listening to a Chip Ingram podcast (highly recommended by the way) and noticed a Ford truck on the other side of the road. I grabbed a Jesus card and stuck it in my pocket but then noticed that the two guys changing the flat tire were pretty much already done. I didn’t think they needed my help so I passed by them and cruised through the next intersection without turning around. However, something prompted me to turn around at the next intersection and go back.
—– tangent —–
Now I don’t know why I always say “something”. I know it is the Holy Spirit prompting me to action. And as my walk with Jesus continues on, my heart continues to clarify tuning into the Holy Spirit and the message He is giving me. Kind of like an old school dial radio where you heard a faint radio station in the distance and you dialed in the tuner to clarify the signal and remove the static.
—– tangent off —–
Even though I was pretty sure they were almost done with changing the flat tire and didn’t need my help, I was prompted to turn around to deliver the message that Jesus loves them and someone else out in the world cares about them and their safety (physically and spiritually). This was one time where it was clear to me this wasn’t about physically helping someone out of a jam on the side of the road. Even though they were good they needed to hear the message of love and Jesus.
I pulled up behind the truck, got out and asked them if they needed any help. The rough guy working on the right front wheel lugs looked up thankfully but continued on the tire stating that they were good. I asked them if they needed anything else and he commented they were good and nodded and smiled. I then pulled out the Jesus card, gave it to him and asked if he knew about the love of Jesus. The smile melted from his face and it appeared to change to disgust. He backed up a step like I was a leper and stated that he was an atheist. He thrust the card back to me. It caught me off guard and I was completely unprepared for the situation. All I could do was tell him that I just wanted to make sure they were ok and that he could discard the card. I told them to have a good day and returned to my vehicle.
While I felt like an impotent failure, a sadness settled over me – not necessarily because I failed or because I didn’t make an impact, but because here was a man who clearly did not want to have anything to do with the great God who made him and loves him. I don’t know why that impacted me so much because I come across people every day who are ambivalent to the God who wants to have an intimate, personal relationship with them. But the visual message of deliberately walking apart from God was strong and I felt sadness for what he was missing out on – and sadness for God that one of his children was choosing to not walk with Him. Again, I understand this happens every single day but for some reason it was intensely manifested in this scenario.
I’d like to think that I could become a better convincer or effective persuader so that these folks can experience the love and joy Christ brings. However, that would put too much emphasis on what I do and not enough emphasis on what Jesus can do. I guess it is in times like these where I feel absolutely impotent, incapable and ill-equipped that God does His best work.
If I could write the ending to this story it would be this – that the man stuck that card back into his pocket because he did not want to litter. And then later in the day, after a hard time at work or maybe an argument with his girlfriend, he will fumble for his keys and feel that card and pull it out to throw it away. And the words Jesus Loves You will tug at his hurting heart. And he will read further the words of Christ and about His unending love for HIM. And that will begin the softening process of his heart and he will seek out his long lost grandma who never stopped praying for him — that her prodigal grandson would finally accept the Jesus she taught him about when he was little. And it is all because Jesus fills in any of our gaps, falls, and shortcomings when it comes to spreading His Gospel.
Thank you Lord!
…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net