Does God speak to us today? I never remember a time when the audible voice of God spoke to me. I’d experienced Him speaking to me when I’ve been reading or praying or through discussions with others, I’d get a sense in my spirit that God was telling me something, but never had I heard a clear call of God’s audible voice. Never, that is, until I met an unemployed man begging for a job on the side of the road.
Last fall we were leaving Bloomington, IN after several hours of shopping and eating and some quality time at the coffee shop, and as were heading onto the highway, to go back home, I noticed a man standing on the side of the road at the opposite on-ramp. We had some water bottles left over from lunch that I had been looking for someone to give some of them to, but I thought ‘well, we’re on our way home now, I’ll just keep going.’ But as I was starting to head down the highway I sensed an urging to turn around and get off at his exit and give him a water bottle and possibly a few dollars that I had in my pocket. (You may have different thoughts on giving ‘beggars’ money, sometimes I do it sometimes I don’t, or I’ll offer food or something else, I try to let God lead me in that.) It took a couple of minutes to get turned around and headed towards his exit, but as we were getting closer to the spot he had been, I noticed that he was still there (another confirmation that this was from God). When I stopped, he asked if I had a job for him, which I did not, but I offered a couple of water bottles to him, he took one, and I also gave him the $5 bill I had.
It was at this point I expected him to thank me, possibly say something like ‘God bless,’ and I’d feel good about doing a good deed and he’d have something positive from me, but that’s not what happened, and it’s what he said in response that struck me. He did thank me, but as we were about to pull away he said, “I love you.”
Yes, this could be dismissed as a crazy man saying something crazy, but I believe, deep in me, that this was the very voice of God delivering a simple but powerful message that I needed to hear. You see, I’d been really down the few weeks before then, struggling with feelings of failure in life and ministry. I’d really been down on myself and doubting who I am, and if I can do the things I’d been called to do, and God, who created me and knows me better than anyone possibly could, wanted me to know that I am His precious child. He wanted me to know that He is my Father, that He is the one who strengthens me, equips me, guides me, and all ultimately for His glory. And the power to be who I really am, the strength to lead, to dare, to risk is fueled by His great love. And God, who has always identified with the poor, used this man, standing on the side of an off ramp of Highway 37, in Bloomington, IN, to deliver a sacred message, to me, an unworthy and cracked vessel, that I am made worthy and made right, not because of what I have done, but because of His great love, because of His great power, because of His great worth.
I don’t know the man’s name, and I may never see him again, but God brought us together, in a perfectly timed moment, so that I, in some small way could bless him, and that he, as a faithful and obedient servant of God (at least in that moment), was a mouthpiece of God Almighty to proclaim His great love for me. It was humbling and meaningful, and I am grateful to this man, and eternally grateful to the God whose grace and love are beyond what I could earn, but are poured out on me – He is good.
God I thank you for your love – may it drive me to be the man, the husband, the father, the pastor, that you have created and called me to be.