Have you ever experienced a God-blessed encounter that leaves you as encouraged as the other party? Such is the case in this simple shared car ride. ♦
After flying into a major American city this week I ordered up a ride from the airport to my hotel through the popular transportation service, Uber. After settling into my seat for the 50 minute drive, I engaged in general conversation with the driver. At one point I asked him if he was going to watch the big NBA playoff game scheduled that evening. While a basketball fan, he told me he had a meeting conflict and so would be missing the game. Curious, I asked him what kind of meeting would distract him from such a big sporting event.
He said he had an evening Bible Study meeting.
“Tell Me Your Story”
I settled back in my seat with a smile he could not see. I merely responded with “Cool. How’d you get into that? Tell me your story.” Without any further prompting, Frank, a young man in his late twenties, proceeded to share his fascinating story of a faith journey that was an encouraging and powerful reminder of God’s relentless love and unique reach out to all of us.
Frank told me that he was raised by a single mother with 4 children who was Christian and worked hard to be steadfast in his upraising. While they “went to church” when they could, he realizes now that he really didn’t know God in any way beyond generalized belief. He said that in his years after high school, he was hanging out with different crowds of church-friends and non-church friends.
It’s curious how God doesn’t judge our meanderings. He patiently out-waits those who seek Him.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” Isaiah 40:28-31)
“Come play music for God!”
Frank shared with me that he’s a musician. A saxophone player. He’s been attracted to music since his youth and played the jazz saxophone throughout his school years. Being a lover of music, Frank had gotten into a pattern of playing his saxophone outside his apartment just to practice and play for the neighborhood. He says now that “That was the vehicle that God used to bring me back to Him.”
One afternoon, a man drove by in a car and called out to him while he was playing the saxophone outside. The man said, “Hey, come play music for God!” Frank said the man looked familiar, but he didn’t pursue the opportunity the man presented.
He said a month went by.
Then as Frank was struggling with girlfriend problems, another friend suggested he speak to a pastor who might be able to counsel him. Frank called the recommended man and made an appointment to meet. Imagine his surprise when he met that same man who had earlier approached him in the car!
From that point on the pastor coached and mentored Frank like Christ trained up His disciplines. Frank now plays his saxophone in the worship band and has reoriented his life and his friends. Some old friends have left him, as Frank has left his partying and drinking ways. He tells them now about his relationship with Jesus. His friends and family have all seen the marked change in his life.
Particularly his longtime girlfriend.
Frank’s longtime girlfriend told him she could not change like him. She said that she did not and could not believe in God. He knows they are “unequally yoked” (see 1 Corinthians 6:14-15) as a Christian and non-Christian and that a relationship like this cannot thrive even if it survives. The risk is that the Christian typically will be compromised and lose faith and diligence.
They’ve broken up yet remain friends. He prays for her and her struggles with alcohol. This saddens Frank and has been a source of struggle. He cares for her but recognizes his life and future is under “new management.” I told him my prayer for her would be for a melted heart. My prayer for him would be for God’s guidance, wisdom and discernment.
I then shared with Frank the story of my youngest son and his girlfriend breaking up in college due to being unequally yoked. He was strong in Christian faith; she was agnostic but open to information. Their short-term breakup was miserable for everyone. My son called his older sister for advice and she recommended the classic book on the logical presentation of the Christian faith: C.S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity. He got the book and he and his non-believing, ex-girlfriend read it together. Six chapters into it she was convinced of the reality of God and the significance of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. She acquiesced in a step of faith.
They just celebrated their 7th wedding anniversary and are expecting their third child. Today their faith and unity as a Christian couple is an encouragement to many Christians and non-Christians around them.
We arrived at my hotel destination. Both Frank and I were blessed and encouraged by our conversation. I gave him $20 to purchase a copy of the book Mere Christianity for his own growth and edification. Perhaps a copy for his ex-girlfriend. He wisely is inclined to wait on the Lord in prayer and sense where God is leading him on the matter.
As we parted I assured him that God is always pleased with our obedience and submissive hearts to His will rather than the orchestration of our own will. I assured him that blessings and fruit will flow from his life in time, to God’s own glory.
Over the past couple of days since I’ve been praying for Frank, his future, and the old and new people surrounding him. May God fill and overwhelm his heart, mind, and soul with peace, joy, wisdom, grace, and blessings to fulfill all that God would have for him. Amen.
Are you encouraged to be an encourager?
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11