So for those of you who don’t know, in addition to my full time work at the most epic Two Guys Smoke Shop, I have a part time job at a small cigar bar. I am there Friday and Saturday nights.
A couple of weeks ago a couple walked into the bar. Not a “couple” couple, but a couple as in two people. They both got a cigar and a drink and sat down to watch the Celtics/Cavaliers game.
At one point the gal of the pair came back up to the bar for a refill and we got into conversation. Bartenders do that you know. At one point she said that she was a Christian. I said I was too. She started asking me about my faith. Questions like: do I believe both the Old and New Testaments, have a read the Gospels, what was a favorite passage from Matthew, Mark, or Luke? She seemed to be vetting the kind of Christian I was.
Once she was satisfied that I was really a believer, she shared some things about her own faith journey. She had been raised a Christian, but as she grew older came to the point where she decided she needed to look at another faiths. After exploring a number of other religions, she decided that Christianity was where she wanted to be. But then she ended up walking away because of some very hard things that happened to her.
But since she had said, “I am a Christian,” not “I was a Christian,” I was curious about how she came back to her faith. However, when I asked her how she came back to faith, she just told me more about how she had fallen away from faith.
The conversation quickly got deep, and I told her that I was just curious about her faith walk, and if it was too hard to talk about or she didn’t want to talk about it we didn’t need to. But she insisted, saying it was nice to have someone to talk about her spiritual walk with–apparently she didn’t have many people in her life to do that with.
At one point, I invited her to come to the church I was going to be speaking at the following week and offered her a copy of my books Special Graces in Common Places, and Rest in the Shadow of the Almighty.
When she saw the cover of Rest in the Shadow of the Almighty, she exclaimed that she had that book. Her mother had given her a copy and it was sitting on her shelf waiting to be read.
Needless to say, I was surprised. I said, “Are you sure? You have this book? Your mom gave you this book?”
” Yup.” She said. “I know it.”
I pointed at the author name on the book and said, “That’s me.” Neither of us could believe it! We ended up exchanging information and promised to follow up on our conversation. She never did share with me about how or if she ever got back to Jesus. I did not push her too. I did tell her that while their are things that happen to us that hurt or confuse us so bad that we let go of God, the wonderful thing is that He does not let go of us, and getting back to God is as simple as turning your head to see that while you may have been running away, you never actually got away.
Now, the point of me sharing this event is not to toot my own horn. That would be lame. The point is that Jesus was, I believe, reinforcing the lesson that this road He has me walking down working as a tobacconist and part time bar tender (outside of the formal pastorate), is not a “time out” or a benching. His “divine appointments” do not just take place in churches, small groups, or places deemed to be “safe” or approved of. They can happen anywhere. Nor are formalities like titles and positions prerequisites or necessities. All that is necessary is a willing and humble spirit. And that is important because while not everyone can hold a title, anyone can say “Here I am Lord, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).