I hear many Christians talk about being ‘led’ to do this or that by God. This is a concept which still puzzles me, and I fear that few really carry through the implications of that statement in their minds.
This was a day when I was ‘led’ by God.
It was a balmy summer afternoon, the kind where all of creation seems to hum with life. Spring was not long past and the heat was at that beautiful point before stifling. My transit van was dutifully hauling me home from a tiring day labouring in the sun. That was when I saw him. Standing thumb-out on the hard shoulder, heavy-laden with rucksacks and looking well-travelled. This is a fellow travellers way of saying he looked like a ragamuffin. When I say I was ‘led’ to pull-over what I mean is that to do anything else was an impossibility. Almost like there was no conscious decision in the split second between spotting him and hitting the brakes.
As he pulled his slight frame into the cab of my van, baggage and all, I asked his destination and purpose.
“I’m on a mission from God brother.”
Now the cynic in me looks back and thinks maybe he spotted the ragged old leather Bible on the dashboard (amongst the sea of invoices and empty food packaging). Or maybe he recognised a religious meaning in the ink markings on my skin. This is that despicable part of me which finds it so hard to trust.
He went on to tell the heartbreaking story of his Daughter who had been sexually assaulted. The Police and Social Services hadn’t been much help, probably due to his somewhat shady history of drug abuse and goodness knows what else. I’ve heard from the horses mouth that most Police officers have little interest in what they describe as “sh!t on s#it”. Bad things happen to bad people seems to be a commonly held attitude, but none of us chose the situation into which we were born.
Andy had walked and hitchhiked his way to London, a journey of approximately 150 miles. He had travelled to the Houses of Parliament to plead for his daughter’s case to be heard. As luck (or providence?) would have it a parliamentary prayer meeting was in session at a nearby chapel. Andy finally had the chance to make himself heard. Bold as brass he had stood up, dispelling the air of quaint aristocratic spirituality. “Tell me whether what has happened to me and my daughter is right or wrong?” he challenged them after telling them what had happened, and none could answer. This man’s journey was a march for justice, one man’s quest to be heard by a system which saw him as an insignificant crime statistic. One more piece of junk on the pile.
After listening to his story we shared scriptures, experiences, and the joy of seeing God’s hand at work in our lives. We prayed real prayers together, the kind you would rarely hear uttered in a chapel in Westminster. He told me his final destination, a shade further than I could take him, so I offered to take him to Luton rail station. He was happy to be dropped off at the side of the M1. We arrived at the station, shared joyful good-byes and he caught a train which coincidentally (?) took him all the way to his destination with no changes and with enough cash left his pocket for some dinner.
I hope I never forget Andy, his joy in the face of adversity and his unshakeable trust in God. And that smile which he smiled with total abandonment. God speed brother, and if you’re reading this I want you to know – now I’m on a mission from God too.