Last Saturday, Vanessa and I were on our way to a dance recital to watch two of our friends’ girls perform. (Side note: they were absolutely phenomenal!) We were running a little early, and had just eaten, so we decided to stop at a convenient store and pick up some gum on the way. I have to admit – for the sake of the other 400 people in the audience that night… I needed it.
We pulled up on an Exxon, and it was less than inviting from the outside. It didn’t exactly look like a family-friendly place, but I really needed the gum. So we pulled up and parked. As soon as I stepped out of the car, Vanessa locked the doors, and I didn’t blame her.
I walked in, and got in line behind this rough, suspicious-looking older gentleman. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “How you doin’?” I said, “I’m doing pretty good, man. How about you?” To my surprise, he responded, “Blessed by the Best.” And for the next five minutes, he gave me a testimony/sermon on how God had delivered him from an addiction to cocaine.
He had lost his wife of 35 years, his family, and his job. But he found Jesus and new life. He had been clean for a number of years now, and was telling me about all of the connections he still has from his days of addiction – and he calls these people, stops by, and seeks them out just to tell them that giving their life to the Lord can free them from their physical addiction and from their depraved lostness. In five minutes, he quoted more scripture – book, chapter, and verse – than I had quoted all week long.
I learned quite a few valuable lessons last Saturday evening. In a place I did not expect to find any trace of God, I was smacked in the back of the head with God’s presence and His goodness. In a man in whom I expected to find depravity, I found riches. In a life torn by travesty, addiction, and regret, I found hope. This man had been forgiven much. And he was not ashamed to tell me about it.
Now that I’m reflecting on it more seriously, I think he was looking for someone to talk to about Jesus. He couldn’t keep it in. The grace and mercy he had been shown was emanating from every pore of his tiny, elderly body. What a witness. How dare I judge so frivolously. This man blessed my heart with his infectious love of the Lord.
It makes me reflect on what I’ve been freed from. The horrible things I am ashamed to admit that I’ve done. The awful person I’ve been. The insults I’ve caused God via my own sin. And to know – that He has forgiven me… wow. How amazing is His love. How wide is His grace. How nondiscriminatory is His mercy. Thank you, Jesus.
I have not been able to get this guy out of my head. God has shown me so much through him. I hope to come across him again one day, just to let him know how much he blessed my heart. If not on this side of heaven, perhaps I’ll meet him on That Great Day – where his rags will be riches, and his humility will be exaltation.
Grace and Peace,
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much.
But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” – Luke 7:47.