I woke up at 4am, and could not fall back to sleep. I knew I was heading to a meeting later that morning that I was SUPER nervous about. My assistant and good friend sent this to me in a text, “Praying for you this morning. Titus 2.11-13, ‘For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.’ It is not us but Christ that renounces ungodliness and worldly passions. May your words and thoughts this morning be from Christ, and may the Spirit comfort and guide you in your conversation.” The words that hit me were, “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions”, and of course I am tempted to think, “Yes I need to go to this meeting and renounce worldly passions in this person.” I am missing the point. God is training ME to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions in ME. I cannot do this is in anyone else. I am an instrument God can use to do that or not do that. What I can certainly work on, remember, and know is that God is doing that in me. So, I stopped from going into that meeting early, stayed in my car, and listened to “All Glory Be to Christ” and “I Know” by Kings Kaleidoscope. I transferred my affections to Christ, and NOT what was in front of me. I made sure I set the trajectory of my heart toward for the DAY!
The meeting ended up being very encouraging and I was able to come out worshiping Christ more. I worshiped Christ so much I wanted to get some Waffle House, yes, Waffle House! I went in and looked around for a few minutes, wondering where I could spend some time with myself and Jesus. The problem was, there were no table available for that. Jesus had other plans. I walked up to the bar, and asked a man if it was ok for me to sit next to him. He said, “sure, of course.” I asked him, “how are you doing today?” We began chatting about life. He showed me pictures of his teenage kids, and I showed him pictures of my little ones. We began talking about his life plans. He wanted to move to Florida someday, but didn’t know what he would do with his house. He didn’t know if he should rent it out or sell it. We talked about the advantages and disadvantages of that. I told him about some friends who'd done that and even my own parents. Eventually we talked about how people will even steal copper out of homes to go get drugs. alcohol and etc. I mentioned I was an inner city pastor who had people that would do those same things. He was a bit taken back that I was a pastor. He said, “that’s weird. My wife and I were just talking about church the other day. Let me show you some of the things we were texting about." They were talking about him struggling with some depression issues—there were times when he was feeling lonely and isolated. He couldn’t find friends who were not into drugs or other addictions. His wife had told him to start praying and he said "I've tried that before, and there is nothing there. No one is listening."
I could feel the LORD tugging on my heart—“speak truth to him John. He needs to know those are lies.” I proceeded to tell him that I did not think us sitting in the same waffle house, and me sitting down to talk to him in particular was a coincidence. I told him I thought God brought me there to talk to him, and give him some hope. He said "I think you're right. It can’t be that random." We talked about how hard life can be, and all the brokenness of the world. But I shared my grandmothers favorites verses in the Bible—Romans 8.28-29. He and I both agreed that God can take all this hard stuff of life and make good come out of it. He was still a bit timid about coming to church, so I suggested we just get coffee sometime or hang out. He was SUPER excited about that, and asked for my business card. We are going to get together in the next two weeks.
I am so thankful God got my attention off myself, so I could enjoy glorifying Him instead of wallowing in my own self-pity. I got to experience God’s grace in two radical ways within a few hours, just because I redirected my gaze off me and onto Christ. I chose to believe that God was training me to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.
Please pray for my new found friend Tim. Pray God will continue to train me to renounce my ungodliness and worldly passions so I will notice more people like Tim. Pray Tim will follow up with me, and we continue to build a friendship. Finally pray God in His sovereign kindness will make our friendship centered around Christ. I truly believe that is what will bring the most joy to both our lives and friendship.
J. Pope - The Doxa Dude