Friday, August 23, 2013

Hitchhikers, Trust, and the Gospel

So I had a heck of an experience. One that honestly has taught me a crap ton in such a short period of time (As I write this now, it's only been 5 hours). I picked up a hitchhiker. 

Now, that might seem smaller to some and larger to some. For me it's huge. I've never done it before. Now, it's important to understand that whatever I write on here is not the result of me having attained this level of sainthood and thus I'm writing to change all your minds about it. EVERY SINGLE post I've ever put up is something I am learning to do better and might honestly tank at, but that's why I write, I am constantly seeking to grow. So as much as I write about loving others, for some reason hitchhikers have always been a group that I've come up with excuses about and not actually done anything about when I see that thumb go up on the side of the road. 

Today was in part no excuse to that. I still struggled to do it greatly. Let me explain. 

I stopped at a gas station to fill up and as I was leaving the store the cashier asked me if I was traveling (I was purchasing an energy drink, apparently that's a giveaway). I said yes and that I was going to Abilene. She proceeded to tell me that a girl with pink hair was recently in the store and was heading to Abilene herself (apparently this cashier is just Chatty Kathy with all of the store patrons). The cashier expressed concern that this girl may be hit by a car because she was hitchhiking. Immediately I could tell God was up to no good (JK) and was trying to get something across to me. I left the store saying that perhaps I would see her and be able to offer a lift since I was going in that direction. Now, as I said this I was reminded that I'm moving to Abilene and so my car is rather full of all kinds of stuff, including my front seat; there was not readily available space in my car. You can see me forming excuse number one. 

I hit the road and honestly expected it to be a few minutes before I came upon this girl. Almost as soon as I pulled out I caught a glimpse of pink hair as I drove past her, quite accidentally. I just wasn't expecting it to be so soon and so I passed her before I had the ability to register it was her. Satan was working. The old trickster continued to work for the next 14 MILES as I came up with every excuse why I didn't have to go back and pick her up. Normally, I'm very successful in this and do not go back. Today I was not so lucky and so 14 miles down the road I pulled a U-turn and headed back the other way. 

I pulled off and moved all the stuff out of my front seat so that she could sit there but very much so retained the information that I had actually passed her up. I essentially made it appear as if I had seen her and stopped. 

Over the next hour, I got one of the craziest stories I had heard in quite some time. Apparently she was actually going past Abilene but was just taking the trip in increments. After inquiring why she was so far from home, she proceeded to tell me a slightly disjointed story of how she was drunk, cut her arm somehow rather severely and had been admitted to the hospital in Wichita Falls. I don't know how that happened, but it did. After more inquiring I was told that she was only 18. Obviously there is a little disconnect between being drunk and 18 at the same time, but it didn't shock me.

I continued to inquire about her life story, which was no less of a crazy ride. From an early age she had been in Child Protective Services for various reasons, gotten addicted to meth but cleaned up 7 months prior to our conversation, and cut herself to the day and showed me hundreds of scars on her arms to prove it. 

I immediately went into counselor mode and started asking questions as to why she cut, how she got clean from meth, and the like. The answers varied but she was incredibly open and honest with me the entire time. It was apparent that she held nothing back. I offered some positive statements like any good counselor, but the conversation died down eventually and we went back to talking about normal yet random things like how bad she wanted spicy chips and a soda. 

I crafted a plan to somehow witness to this girl when we were about 25 miles out from where we would part ways. My basic approach was to make my talk the price of admission for the ride, explaining that she got to do with the talk whatever she wanted. I had let her chain smoke in my car to try and meet her where she was at, so listening to my spill seemed like a pretty low price. 

Earlier in the ride she had contacted her grandma to tell her she was on her way there and was hitchhiking. Her grandma told her to not get in any cars with men, something she told me about as she laughed. I proceeded to tell her in my talk that her grandma had a point, and normally doing such would not be a good idea. But from there I explained that the reason I had stopped was because I was a Christian and I was trying to show God's love to her. I explained the whole story about how I had learned about her travels but had accidentally passed her up and fought the urge to just keep driving. I told her that there was truly nothing about me that made me stop, for I am simply not that compassionate nor caring. But, because Christ has been generous to me, that changes everything about how I seek to be generous with others, but have to strive for that diligently or else my flesh will fail and my human weakness take over. I then explained how it was the love of Christ that compelled me to look out for her well being and pleaded with her to seek ways to avoid dangerous situations in the future like being drunk and cutting her arm open (especially as it is illegal). I told her I did not judge her for these things, for my past was also filled with darkness, but that I wanted her to take seriously her own well being and seek to stay clean from meth and if possible, seek to end the cutting for her own sake as well as for the sake of those she loved and who loved her. 

Her response to all of this was so encouraging. As I was saying all these things she was constantly pointing out things of a "Christian" nature such as a neon sign on a church that said "Jesus Saves" and a picture she had taken of the sunset on our trip in which an electrical pole looked like a cross. It was obvious that she was taking what I said to heart in some capacity or another. However, even if she had thrown all of this back in my face, I would have felt a million times better than if I had just kept driving. Those 14 miles had eaten me up and I would be in such a different place right now had I not stopped and turned around. Thankfully I get to tell a rather happy story. But if I had been rejected, my story would still have been so much more positive than the story of how Spenser saw a need but passed it by out of doubt, fear, and a sense of inconvenience. 

The last few weeks have really taught me about trust. Ultimately one of the underlying reasons behind why I don't normally pick up hitchhikers (besides my human compassion being lacking without Christ's power and love) is essentially a lack of trust. This is something I have been trying to better about myself, and try to lean on God for strength to do these tough things. Moving to Abilene has really seemed to have this theme overall. From the actual trip down to Abilene to the preparation in coming here, God has been trying to acquire my trust. For those of you who don't know, I don't actually have a permanent residence down here yet. I have several offers from amazing people to house me for a week or two while I find somewhere, but no actual residence yet. I also do not have a job of any kind lined up so that I can be sure to eat and pay the rent of the apartment I do not yet possess. Thankfully, God has made several things happen that really show Him working in this situation, even if they are not yet fully resolved. So I am quite literally going on nothing but trust that God's gonna do what needs to be done and will provide the path for me to get there. 

So, I am currently overwhelmed with the presence of God in my life and can see Him working and moving to my aid. I have not yet attained this in perfection, for I nearly passed up the opportunity to trust and reach out with the gospel today, but I am working towards better things. 

And so my question for anyone reading is what might God be asking you to do in order to put yourself out on the line for Him? In what ways and areas is He trying to gain your trust? And an even more crazy question, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, are you willing to say "God can deliver me from this, but even if He doesn't, I will put my faith in God and not bow to the low expectations and doubts of this world." 

And my next question is this, who needs to be reached with God's love in your life and what might be your part in that? Who do you need to witness to? I'll be honest, I blog and talk about this kind of stuff all day but when it comes to witnessing to perfect strangers and even those groups I know sometimes, I come up wanting a good portion of the time. But brothers and sisters, I don't want it to be this way, for me...or for you. God has been so loving and gracious to us, who in our lives need us to illustrate that to them?

We are but weak vessels who are only made strong through the power of God. But through that power I challenge you to share the gospel and fully trust the God that we serve in order to better do so. 

1 comment:

  1. Spenser, This is the gospel right here! Not just some words, but the gospel manifesting itself through us. God is calling this generation back to the powerful, life changing message of the gospel, which transforms lives. It's more than just a good Sunday program, or theologically sound teaching. It is us admitting we are nothing and Jesus is everything. It is the Holy Spirit burning inside us, molding us, as we submit and go.

    I'm encouraged by your experience, and will continue to look for opportunities that the Spirit is leading me to be the gospel.