The bus rolled through the Indiana countryside, it was 12 and I was on the 22 hour of the 29 hour bus ride. I had already finished a book and started another one, but my mind wasn’t on reading. Instead it was on the conversation I was having with the tattoo covered, pierced, long haired man who enjoyed girls and alcohol and cursing at the bus driver. He had been sleeping so this was my first chance to talk to him aside from the usual greeting. Our conversation turned to my faith, a faith we did not share. He was a naturalist who followed Wicca, I am a Christian who believes in God. He asked me sincere questions and so I got the chance to ministry and share my testimony with this man.
“Lord, let the seed that you have allowed me to plant be watered” I prayed to myself as we went down the road. The entire trip I had been looking for opportunities to show the joy of Christ. This was a new effort for me, one who normally keeps to himself on long trips or keeps the conversation to music or other casual topics. But this trip was different from the beginning, from the time I received my tickets the previous Monday.
I have to confess, I do not like taking the bus, they are crowded and sometimes noisy and certainly uncomfortable. Drivers are normally rude and food is scarce, that of course is if you have the money to afford it, which I didn’t when I received my ticket. I spent my week praying that I would find money in my room or that dad would wire me some money but neither of things happened. Thursday, as I was in the school’s radio station, during a song break on my show two friends came in and told me they’d be in a study room. I got the hint and after I went off the air joined them. We sat and talked for awhile and to my surprise they handed me twenty, making sure I knew I was from both of them and that I fed myself. They knew of my need, and just as they have been for the last year, showed me God’s love by filling a need. I left that study room feeling overwhelmed.
Prayer answered – but not fully, at least from God’s perspective.
The next morning, as I was telling one of my professors about this answer to prayer and how God had provided again, he then reached into his wallet and pulled out another twenty. “Here” he said “I’m gonna give you another twenty, and if you meet someone who needs food make sure you buy them something to eat.” I left the office once again overwhelmed. Praying the whole time that God would allow me to pay my professors kindness forward, asking God to make an opportunity plain to me. I didn’t know what was coming next.
As I said, I made an effort to show God’s love on this trip, to not just keep to myself. This took a lot of prayer and a lot of patience, my resolve was tested, and in the end I can only leave my impact up to God. That was what had brought me to converse with the man next to me. He certainly didn’t look like a nice fellow, in fact most Christians probably wouldn’t sit next to him based on his appearance. He had been on the bus for almost 48 hours and as our conversation went on I found that he hadn’t eaten sense he got on the bus. God couldn’t have made it more obvious to me than that. At our next stop he was able to get food because of my professor and of course, the Holy Spirit.
It’s been a challenge lately but God has really been teaching me to live broken, something I’ve never been good at. Learning to live totally by the leading and grace of God, this is something that has impacted me deeply as I have studied the lives of the saints. Pride is a struggle in my life, but these men, who struggle with the same things, have lived lives of prayer, they have sought the Lord in place of their own comfort or gain.
Jesus does the same, eating with tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners, giving him and disciples a bad name in the face of religious leaders. But he also went to the father and humble asked for help in every situation, whether he was with the religious or with the sinners, Jesus lived a life humbly before God. As I sat there next to this tattooed man though all I could think about was how much God loved him. Even if the sharing of my testimony and offering evidence for God only planted a seed, it was still a seed and seeds can be watered.
I wonder what would happen if the men and women of God, if the Saints of God, decided to live humbly in prayer and dedication to the Lord and to one another. What if we took everything, as the hymn says, “To God in prayer?” How would our communities and churches be transformed? Would our frivolous debates last? Or would iron sharpen iron and as we sharpened one another would we see growth?
God has called us to live humbly before him, we’ve been given grace so that we could do just this. Not as sinners but as Saints of the lamb. God will bless us, perhaps in ways we don’t expect, perhaps in simple things we already enjoy. So let us come before the thrown of God and seek him in our daily lives, humbly admitting that we need Him more and more. Then let us walk together, outside the walls of denominations or isms, as Saints of the living God. And let us love those who do not know God, sharing not only our food, but our brokenness, so that they may see our joy and desire it. Praise God for the long haired, tattooed man, and may someone water the seed of Faith that was hopefully planted in his heart.