A VAN, A DOG AND SOME LEFT OVER PIZZA

Recently I spent two hours talking with a man in his early fifties that lives in his van with his dog. He has had a very long battle with drugs and restlessness. He called me because he heard that I had had a history similar to his and wanted to talk with me, so I told him “come on over.”

I had met him once before in the Sunday school class I teach. He has long blonde hair and speaks rather softly but with a deep voice. You can see he has led a colorful, gypsy like lifestyle just by looking in his face. He has a very quiet humble way about him but there is sadness just under the surface.

He has had a long battle with drugs and his desire to find answers and a different way to live has led him to my kitchen table. It seems he has this idea that I may be able to help him. I assure him that I cannot. I tell him I have no ability whatsoever to help him but I know the only one who can.

It seems we have come quite a long way when we discover we can’t help people but we can lead them to Christ. Getting people to realize trying harder and what we call will power is never going to fix their problem isn’t easy. Most of us have been conditioned for so long to try harder or suck it up. When you tell someone to quite trying it’s like you are talking in a foreign language. It simply just doesn’t compute. They think “what will happen if I stop trying? I just say, “all of your trying has gotten you where”? If it hasn’t worked we probably need to look at another option.

I told him about how Jesus encouraged us to come to him. He said “come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest.” He went on to say “his yoke is easy and his burden is light.” Jesus invites us to let him do all of our heavy lifting. Our job is to let him.

Just then there was a knock on the front door. It was the pizza I had ordered before he had arrived. As I shared the pizza with him he said he hasn’t eaten very much this week. He didn’t have a job because he had been using drugs and was afraid he would have an accident and lose it. He drove a truck for a living and was worried what might happen if he had an accident with drugs in his system. He respects his boss and didn’t want to cause him any grief so he confessed to him about his drug use. Now he isn’t working and he is fighting depression, anxiety, pain and just being flat out tired.

When he first arrived I went out to meet him in the driveway and he has a little dog with him. He said the dog was 15 yrs old; it seems to be his best friend and traveling companion.

Basically I just shared the gospel with him. I asked him if he had ever prayed a prayer to invite Jesus into his life. He said he had asked God for help, forgiveness, and told him he didn’t know what to do. I shared with him that forgiveness from God came with a cost. I walked him through the commandments and he agreed with me that neither of us had kept them. I told him the “wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”

I explained to him that the only reason God could forgive us is because Jesus died our death for us. God’s righteous, holy, perfect law demands perfection from us and since we couldn’t live up to his perfect standard we were sentenced to death. God saw fit to do something about our situation and sent his son here to live a sinless life in order to die for our sins and give us right standing before him.

I told him if he was standing in front of a judge and found guilty of an awful crime he would deserve justice. The judge might say something like you owe the court a $100,000 fine or you have to go to jail for six years. Your response would be “I don’t have $100,000 and I simply can’t go to jail.” The judge would say it’s one or the other, the fine or jail.

We are in a similar situation except it is worse because we are not talking about some temporal years in prison we are talking about eternity in Hell for breaking God’s law. If the law has been broken the penalty must be paid.

I said if you were standing in front of that judge, as he was waiting for the answer and someone you didn’t know came in and laid $100,000 on the desk the judge could declare you free to go. The crime was committed, the sentence rendered and the fine paid. That is why God can forgive us it isn’t just because he is a forgiving God. It is because Jesus on the Cross paid our fine and satisfied a Holy God so we could be set free. Amen!

I didn’t lead him in a prayer. Sometimes I think it isn’t wise to lead people in prayers because they just need to talk things out with God in their own way and time.

As he was leaving I asked him if he understood and he said “yes the way you explained it makes a lot of sense.” There were two pieces of pizza left and a hungry dog in the van so I gave it to him. He hugged me and told me he would be in touch. I gave him some booklets to read that I thought might help him to understand a little better and told him I would talk with him later.

God has really been sending people to Tracey and me to minister to lately. This past week I have talked with a man that fell off the wagon after eight years of sobriety, a fifty something drug addict, a man accused of murder and the wife of a drug addict that has just about had all she can take.

When Jesus walked the earth as a man he was accused of being a winebibber and a glutton. They accused him of eating with tax collectors and sinners. It seems as though he still wants to hang out with sinners but now he wants to do it through us. If Jesus Christ dwells in you don’t be surprised if you find yourself hanging out with junkies, alcoholics and all manner of  individuals.

You gotta love it!!! Amen!

Written by Louie

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