I am in Los Angeles visiting family (please pray for our trip home tomorrow). I had, this morning, a sacred moment down here which I wanted to share . . .
I took a walk up a street this morning to a hardware store to get some tools for a project at the home we are staying at. I don't remember consciously asking God for an encounter on the walk, but I have been studying a lot about the surrendered life and simply letting Jesus live through me. I was so caught off guard by what happened next that I don't even remember the exact order, or details.
I was on a corner with some other people (it was a bus stop). I think I was waiting to cross the street. I don't even remember if I noticed the heavy set, sort of dirty man on the low cement wall a little behind me or not. I may have smiled at him as I went past, but I don't remember. All I know is that he asked me if I would pray for him. He had a Bible with him and I had a little trouble understanding him, and I thought maybe he was asking if he could pray for me. But when I went to him and leaned closer and apologized for not hearing what he had asked, he asked if I could pray for him. He then began telling about how he ended up at that spot and was staring at a fire truck across the street and he didn't know why it was there (it had some meaning to him). He asked how he could know how to be in heaven and he said that I looked like a man who could help him.
I have to say that I was caught so unexpectedly that I was not sure what to make of it, but I soon began to realize it was a divine encounter. I had a decision and, while a part of me wanted to move past and on my errand, I remember thinking that it was likely that Jesus wanted to use me—to be Himself through me to this man. I thought, "This is what I have been studying about. Simply resting and surrendering and being available!"
I stood next to the man and listened to him, sometimes having to ask him to repeat himself. It became clear he was seeking spiritual truth and that, while he'd had some church background somewhere in the past, he was confused and needed answers.
I ended up sitting down next to him on the wall he was sitting on. We talked as the traffic and people went past. His name is Daniel, and he says that people have told him he's crazy. He has started to believe it. I told him that Jesus was bigger than all that and that Jesus could take care of him and set him free, no matter what was at work.
I explained the Gospel to him, and shared about what it means to not just say some prayer, but to surrender our life to Jesus' Lordship. I talked about faith instead of works for salvation. We talked about God's Word, and about Jesus' power, and about Satan's attacks. He then, almost abruptly, said he wanted Jesus and he bowed his head and prayed. He did great! I didn't need to coach or anything, he just poured out his heart to Jesus, asked Jesus' forgiveness, told Jesus he was sorry about things he'd done, and asked Him in to his life. At one point, while he was doing that, he cried out real loud, "Jesus, come in!" I had my head bowed, but I am sure that if I was looking around I'd have seen the people around us at the bus stop all looking and maybe stepping back. I chuckled and told him, "Daniel, you don't need to yell. Jesus has good ears."
When he was done I put my hand on him and prayed over him. I asked Jesus to pour out upon him, and for His power to come against anything wrong with Daniel or attacking Daniel, and to lead him in truth and to help him find a wonderful circle of Christian friends and church. (It bothered me how afraid I found myself as I prayed of how churches would react when he walked in with his dirty clothes and hard to understand speech . . . it is sad to think how many Christians, myself included, often judge or avoid those who drew close to Jesus).
Before I left, I told Daniel what the Holy Spirit's voice will sound like as opposed to Satan's. I taught him about responding to the enemy's voice in authority, and about reading God's Word to learn to recognize God's voice—about finding a good church—and some other stuff. I asked him how he'd ended up in that spot and he said he'd come there to pray (he lives down the street in a boarding house). He said he'd stopped in that spot because the homeless people farther up the street didn't want him there. I told him that I thought God had stopped him there so we could meet and he lit up and smiled and said something to the effect of, "Yeah! I think so, too!"
It was a sacred moment. I can't explain the radiance in my heart and the moment. I hadn't done a thing to bring it about, other than, maybe, being available. I was walking down the street in a town not even my own and a man, out of the blue, asked me to pray for him as I walked past. A man confused and seeking and wanting to know about heaven. A man who looked like the kind you often walk around and hope they don't talk to you. A man who, for some reason, thought I, of all the people passing by, looked like a man who could help him.
I can't explain the moment in any words that are adequate. I share it only because this is my personal blog, and this is my place to share about me and my life and my God, and because if you read my blog you probably care about these things and about me. It was truly amazing to be walking down the street, and 15 minutes later to be leading a new brother to Christ on the corner of a busy intersection, surrounded by people going in and out of a business and waiting for a bus. I don't know how to capture it. It was holy. Even as he yelled out loud I didn't mind. God was there and He was moving.
As I left and walked on my way I marveled. Then, I started to doubt—the voices coming in telling me he was just making me his next mark . . . but then I realized he'd not asked me for a thing, other than prayer and answers. He hadn't told me he needed anything, other than assurance. He hadn't even shared that he lived in a boarding house down the street until I'd asked.
I looked for Daniel on my way back, to just give him a hug, but he was gone. I realize I love Daniel in a strange way. I miss him already. He is my brother. He came to Jesus . . . on a street corner . . . holding his Bible like a treasured possession . . . shirt and pants dirty . . . humbly and simply praying in a prayer so beautiful it made my heart sing . . . and he looked up when he was done with such a smile and an eagerness to read His Bible and do the things I suggested to him.
If you are a Christian, you have a new brother. His name is Daniel. Please pray for him. I stand in awe at my awesome God. If this is what it means to live surrendered and available, resting in God and not striving, simply being there for Him to use, then I want more of it.