I can’t get my lunch experience with Jesus (see previous post) off my mind. I keep seeing him in Agent H’s eyes. I encountered Holiness I was unprepared for, and I am affected.
The look of him sitting so close to me across the table. I studied his appearance, and it is burned in my mind. His eyebrows were straggly – over grown. Untrimmed and wiry. Long, untamed hairs poking out above his eyes. His beard was long, but not ZZ Top long, not Duck Dynasty long, but covered his neck in grey. His skin looked old and weather beaten. His nose was pointy. He looked so frail. He was skin and bones. I kept sensing pity for him as I tried to hear his mumbled words. I wanted him to feel me care what he was saying.
Then suddenly those words as the tears gushed down his face: The joy of the Lord is my strength!
I was shocked! He did not appear joyous or strong; rather he appeared sad and weak! But he claimed strength that I could not see. And I was mystified.
Have you ever been mystified by Jesus? Suddenly, I realized I was viewing the man all wrong! Could all his “mumbling” have been the tongues of angels that I did not know?
I felt myself convicted. I did not want to leave him. I wrestled with the notion of inviting him home. There are sooooooo many logistics to work out! And then when he said those words and then preached his sermons, I was just pinned to the wall. If he had asked me to take him home, I believe I would. How can you meet Jesus and say “no” to him? Suddenly, I was in his hands.
I relished every second. I kept thinking, this won’t last. But I don’t want to leave. I have been struggling with sin in my own life. It’s been hard to talk to God about it. But suddenly I felt welcome in his presence. I studied his features more intently. I sensed that together we slipped the veil. We were somewhere else… Holy Ground. I was amazed at his words, his conviction. He knew the place I go to church. He knew Scriptures by heart and recited them.
Then the other patron came up and gave him money. Suddenly I remembered, we were on parade! The world was watching us. I had the shirt that calls attention to Jesus.
(Now think about this: I had already been to Walmart where the employee ran off a beggar from that parking lot just an hour before. I followed that employee out to the beggar. I bet he thought he was doing his company, his boss, and the shopping public a favor by running off that bum. What do you think he thought when a shopper at his store walked up wearing a shirt that says JESUS WAS HOMELESS on it? That kind of thing throws a wrench in your expectations and in your worldview!)
My shirt was speaking like a caption under the picture, and the picture affected everyone in that restaurant – moving one man to offer $10! I was having my own conviction too. I was totally unprepared for a beggar I had never met before on the streets of Lubbock praising God, weeping, and giving thanks and sermons like that.
I have been so mystified by this otherwise insignificant moment, that I wonder if I might not have been the only human in that restaurant. It is quite possible in God’s hands to fill the place with angels and me be unaware (Hebrews 13:2 anyone???) I mean, even the guy giving $10 to Agent H disappeared from my life just as quickly as the rest. Was that even a Popeye’s restaurant?
I’m telling you, I encountered Holy Ground! I was unworthy! Why did I not insist that this man come home to eat with me? (Gen. 18:1-5 anyone???) “What’s it really worth to you to shake the holy hand of fate?” (a line from the song Rainmaker by the rock band Kansas).
I studied his features, because I knew in my bones they would be a memory to me soon. I took my cues from him. He did not demand anything from me, yet I was scared he would and that I would submit, but then I was scared he wouldn’t and I would miss my chance to submit.
And then I watched him walk away.
And I can’t forget him.
I keep thinking of that part in Tony Campolo’s Sermon (the original/long version of It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming) where he describes boarding a small plane in Haiti and a woman begging him, “Please take my baby!” He describes in agonizing detail how she pleaded with him to take her baby and even pounded on the side of the plane until it took off down the runway. He had been repulsed by her outburst and terrible demand. He had let the pilot shut the door on that woman crying and pleading for him to take her dying baby. But once he was in the air, well away and safe from her irrational demands, he said, “Suddenly, I knew who that baby was…”
It’s like that.