On day while in Washington D.C., I jumped into a transportation van that was taking a group of us to a restaurant along the Potomac River. Three got in the back and I got into the front seat across from the driver. He was a middle-aged man, meticulously groomed and dressed in a sharp suit and tie. I engaged him in conversation about his life. He revealed that he was the owner of the transportation company and that when you saw him driving you knew his company was busy.
I love learning about people and so without trying to sound like I was interrogating him, I asked him to tell me more about his life. He also asked me questions about mine. At one point I told him I was the fifth child of a family of ten children. He chuckled immediately sharing that he was the oldest of ten children. That opened the door for interesting stories on the joys and humorous dysfunctions of a large family. We both had plenty of stories and it led to many laughs. He sounded like a kind brother that had done well in life and worked to help some of his less-fortunate siblings that needed help.
Suddenly he changed subjects to ask a question. I am guessing that you were raised Catholic right? I told him he was right. We discovered we had both grown up with a Catholic education. So then, he continued, If you grew up Catholic, how is it that you are a Pastor in a non-Catholic church and what kind of church do you belong to? I explained to him that at the age of 24, through a friend’s encouragement, I began to read the Bible, something I had never opened much-less read before. I had told him that she helped me understand Jesus’ real mission on earth—to pay the price for my sins and wash them all away so that I could have eternal life.
This led into a great conversation. He grew up Catholic believing in Heaven but felt more like he was a prime candidate for Hell. Of course he tried to say it jokingly but I could hear the concern in his humorous way of saying it. He continued to tell me that he, like he assumed most people would say, tried to live life with enough kindness and kind actions to earn his way in. But, he really didn’t think he was going to make it. He told me he was hoping for plan B: Purgatory (which he wasn’t too excited about) and if not, he didn’t like the final door.
I shared with him that this was the missing link in my life concerning Jesus. I told him that I had never been able to connect the dots between Jesus’ death and resurrection and me getting into Heaven. I told him that I also felt like I was at door number three and didn’t like it. I told him that to relieve the guilt and fear of Hell, I went through a period of saying I didn’t believe in God. That really didn’t work. I knew I was lying to myself. I did believe in God. That was where he was at. I had enough time in our drive to explain what Jesus did for him. I said that out of love for each one of us, He took the punishment we deserved upon Himself—literally taking our place at death—and that having faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for us caused our sins to be washed away. We didn’t deserve it. We couldn’t earn it. It was a gift to whoever would believe. I told him, I know it sounds too good to be true, but the extent of God’s love for us is so great, it will always feel to good to be true. If you read the Bible you will see for yourself. By the time we were arrived at the restaurant, I knew he was connecting the dots.
I told him that this gift was a gift that had to be received in his own heart personally as I had done many years ago. I could have asked him to pray right there in the car and wasn’t afraid to, but was concerned he’d be embarrassed with the others in the back seat. I suddenly remembered something. Isn’t there a driver that works for you named Charlie that goes to a church in the area? I had remembered him from the previous year. Yes, he said. He works for me and has for over 15 years. I knew at that point that Charlie had to have talked to him before about the Lord. Charlie was very outgoing about his faith and church. I said, Charlie is a great resource to you with questions about the Bible. I know the church he goes to and it’s a good one. He can help you get to know more about what we talked about today.
We had arrived at the restaurant and as he opened the doors for those in the back, I noticed he had a big smile on his face. Without exaggerating, he looked different. I think the transformation had already started. I knew I wasn’t the first person to share Jesus with him. I’m sure I was one of many that had a hand. As 1 Cor. 3:7-9 says, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
There are many things that are wonderful about life, but NOTHING and I mean NOTHING compares to the joy of sharing the love and gospel of Jesus Christ. It is God who makes things grow in a person’s heart and who brings the increase of understanding and insight so that a person can see and receive. It’s God who connects the dots in their heart. But they need to hear the gospel and that’s our part!
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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