God Moment

By Don Smith

One evening as I left work to go to my car, I noticed a young, sweaty man by the footbridge I use to cross a busy street. The bridge is popular with joggers, so at first I thought nothing of it, but as I got closer, I realized he was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt that was drenched. As I walked past him, he turned to walk next to me and said something I couldn’t make out. At this point, I had determined he was likely wanting money, so I didn’t slow down. But since he was intent on keeping up, I replied with, “What did you say?”

He repeated, “Why won’t anyone tell me what is going on? Why won’t anyone talk to me?”
Since I am frequently asked for money on this walk, I expected this interaction would be no different. I decided to beat him to the punch by asking what he wanted very directly.

He replied with, “I just want someone to talk to. I don’t want any money; I just need to talk.”

This poor young man was my opportunity.

I sensed something was different, but I wasn’t sure what. I said we could talk, but we had to keep walking, as I still felt a little skeptical. Plus, I was excited to get home earlier than expected and surprise my family. He walked alongside me for the next fifteen minutes, telling me his story of child abuse, drug addiction, prostitution, mental disabilities, and disease.

I suddenly realized this man was an answer to a prayer I had prayed earlier that day, that God would give me an opportunity to be a blessing, to deliver a miracle to someone in their time of need. This poor young man was my opportunity.

And so, I let him talk and I asked him questions. I found out he had sold himself the night before to get drug money, and he was coming off his high. He had married another man, but the man had divorced him, which left him heartbroken. He had HIV. He hated his life. He had been in rehab but had left. He wanted to break free from his addiction, but it was too powerful. He felt great shame for his life.

He was also at a crossroads. Should he go home to Spokane or try again to get clean in Seattle? He said he hadn’t eaten for a couple of days. I told him I can’t think straight if I haven’t eaten for just four hours, so let’s get him some food and water. We walked a few blocks to a grocery store and I bought him a sandwich and some water.

He was very grateful but was especially thankful that I spent time talking to him. He thought I was a “really nice person.” I asked if he had ever considered asking Jesus for help. He said he had thought about it.

I put my hand on his shoulder and prayed, on a busy sidewalk in Queen Anne, for Jesus’ blessing on his life.

I told him I was a follower of Jesus, and, outside of Jesus in my life, I am not a nice person. Jesus has put His love in my heart, and that is why I spent time talking with him. I asked him if I could pray for him and he said yes. I put my hand on his shoulder and prayed, on a busy sidewalk in Queen Anne, for Jesus’ blessing on his life. I asked Jesus to reveal himself to Ricky, to lead him where he should go, and to help him find the peace he desired.

We talked a little more and he kept expressing his gratitude for taking the time to listen to him and to pray for him. I encouraged him to go to the Union Gospel Mission because they could help him if he was ready.

When I got back in my car, I wept. It was a mixture of tears for this man and the sadness in his life, but also of joy and thankfulness for meeting him under what I consider to be miraculous circumstances. If an earlier meeting hadn’t been canceled or if I had left work just a few minutes earlier or later, I would have missed him. If my sweetheart wasn’t expecting me to be late, I would have been rushing to get home. I was thankful for this opportunity to be a small part of Jesus’ work in this man’s life.

One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 2:7-9. The Apostle Paul is telling us why Jesus came into this world and suffered for us, “in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Jesus didn’t come for us because we are cool and fun. He came because we are desperately lost without Him. He came to show His love, to show “the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness” for ages and ages to come. I don’t know where this man is now, but I do know that Jesus loves him. I felt it.

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