Thursday, June 03, 2004

Just Passing Through

What a beautiful night it has been. The sky is perfect and when your car has no top on it, you really appreciate a nice night. Tonight was not just about good weather.

I met a good friend in Greenville to catch a movie. We had fun, drove around for a while with the top down and listened to music. Not much was open after the movie, so I dropped her off and headed home. As soon as I turned onto the interstate, there is a man stopped on the side of the road. I pull up on the side with him. An older man walks around the car with a disappointed look on his face, he's got a flat. Flat, no problem, let's put on the spare, well, the spare is flat too. Let's go buy another tire, he doesn't have a key to get his tire off the rim, trouble. We came to the conclusion that we could do nothing for his Ford Escort and we decided that I would just take him home. Mr. Bill is his name. Normal looking man, mid 60's I would say.

He jumped in my Jeep was amazed that it had no top; he was surprised that he could just stick his hands up in the air. "Where does this go?", he asks of the seatbelt. Good question to ask in a vehicle with no restraints. I enjoy picking up people on the side of the road, to hear and listen to their story. This night was no different. I asked about his story and he gladly told me.

He explained to me that he lived in Florida for most of his life and he was a tile mason. He and his wife divorced when his daughter was 2 years old and he never saw her again. He eventually left the tile business and drove freight trucks, only to get in a wreck in New Mexico and have the truck taken from him, forcing him to hitch hike all the way back to Florida. He returned, had no money, and his landlord kicked him out of his apartment. He then lived on the streets for 6 months, and slept under a bridge. He had a terrible relationship with his ex-wife and had not spoken to her in years. His ex-wife eventually told his daughter that her father was not the man she was married to, but another man (Mr. Bill) that lived somewhere in the US. She would not tell her where. His daughter set out to find him. Eventually, through the internet, she tracked him from state to state, finally finding him. They were reunited in Myrtle Beach during the 4th of July. He said it was a beautiful time. She and her husband convinced him to leave Florida and move to SC. So he did. He moved in with his daughter until he could get on his feet. His ex-wife found out and kicked him out. (She owned the house.) So he was back on the streets and living in his car, but had a job. Mr. Bill found an apt after living 3 months in his car, only to find himself on the side of the road, with noone to call and no money in his pocket.

As I dropped him off, he wanted to get my number so he could pay me back. I explained to him that it was my calling to pick up people on the side of the road. He smiled. I gave him my number in case he needed anything else. (Fear enters here) How could I hear this man's life, love him enough to stop and help him, love him enough to bring him home, but then stop in that love and not share with him the most important person in my life? As he was about to step out my Jeep, I looked at him and told him that I was not being fair to him if I just let him leave. I got out a tract that says "GODISNOWHERE". I asked him what it said. He said, "God is nowhere." It's a trick, it should read, "God is now Here." We went on to talk about the end of life and what happens next. He told me that he was born again and knows the Lord. He also told me that he studied to be a pastor for two years. Wow. I asked him, "are you following the Lord?" Good conversation. He told me that he had been praying right before I drove up. He said that many people passed by him, nobody would help. I mentioned to him before that I had spent my fair share of times on the side of the road, sometimes in the rain and in the cold, while people just passed by and glanced over, only to continue on their path. I explained to him that the Lord will never leave him stranded on the side of the road, never.

I've had my heart broken a few times in this life, maybe a girl, maybe a friend that lets you down. I've never told any of those people, "hey, thanks for breaking my heart." As much as it hurts, I love when the Lord breaks my heart, and tares down as I tear down, all the nasty stuff that's in there. The Lord is the only one I will thank when He breaks my heart. (Psalm 51:17) There is nothing wrong with fear, but there is something wrong with shame. I fear people sometimes, I fear witnessing to them, I fear what they will think of me, I fear they will look down on me, but I really pray that I will never be ashamed of talking about the Lord. He's never left me on the side of the road and He never will.

1 comment:

Holly said...

Justin - That is an awesome story. You are an awesome person. And God is the coolest of us all. I am in Colorado and this is so up your ally. I am learning the Christian Worldview and reading books way over my head and learning and loving it. Maybe soon I will have a cool God story.