I had an awesome encounter yesterday. I just stopped in to Port City Java to get a cup and check my e-mail. A guy came over and sat down at my table. He asked me if I would write an entry in his journal. I thought this was a little weird and for some reason it was a little uncomfortable. He said he had noticed a book on my table and he asked me what it was about. I said it was a book written by a Pastor about the journey of following Jesus. He asked if I was in ministry. I told him I was a Pastor. He asked a few other small talk questions then said that he would often ask other people to just write something in his journal and that I could take my time and write anything I wanted. I felt God move me even though I was tentative. So I agreed.
Now was the big thing. What do I write? After all this is not my journal and I don’t know anything about this guy. It was a real step of faith. I prayed to myself asking God to guide me in my thoughts. Then-I began to write.
What I wrote did not seem as significant as what took place after I finished writing. When I was done I went over to his table and handed the journal back. Then I sat down. I asked him what he was reading. He explained that it was a book on Zen meditation. Many thought were firing through my brain at lightning speed. What do I say to that? I said “That’s cool.” Sounds brilliant!? Was that the best I could come up with? Truthfully, it was the only thing that came to mind. He looked at me, backing his head up a little with a questioning smile, and said “I’m surprised you would say that being a Pastor.” I said “Well the Bible says a lot about meditation.” He asked where. I said the book of Psalms in particular. He said show me. So I got my Bible and read to him from Psalm 119 about meditation on God’s precepts and fixing our eyes on His ways.
This sent us into a conversation over many issues about Christianity and following Jesus. For an hour we talked. It was obvious that something had painfully shaped how he felt about church and Christians. His mom was christian in a very legalistic denomination and his dad was Buddhist. They divorced over religious issues and probably others, when the kids were grown.
I told him as our conversation was coming to a close that I really enjoyed the time with him and his openness. He told me that he hoped he did not offend me. I said to him that when it is our agenda to always convert people instead of knowing people we offend them or at least walk away disappointed because we didn’t reach our goal. When it is our chief desire to connect and know people and we value them as created by God even if they don’t know him, it opens doors through relationship that will never open through trying to argue or convince people.
God is so good. If we stay open to people and to His leading we will experience some incredible things and He will use us in the process.
What great encounters have you had lately?