Because I believe in a sovereign God I hold to the position that every person you meet is a divine appointment. However, every once in a while God highlights an encounter and His involvement in orchestrating the appointment is more obvious. I want to share with you one such encounter I recently had, and how encounters like these have changed the way I pray for God to open doors to be a witness for Christ.
No mood for evangelism
I picked up these two pieces of art while on a spontaneous last minute kid-free trip to Avila Beach with Candace. We walked around downtown Avila and landed at a local hipsteresque coffee shop to enjoy the scenery, a delicious single-original pour over, and of course – each other. Needless to say, having spiritual conversations with complete strangers wasn’t on our agenda, to be shamefully honest.
As we sat on the patio looking out toward the ocean soaking up the sun in the perfect weather I noticed a young guy on my right side. He was unkempt, barefoot and hippy-looking, wearing a hoodie with board-shorts and coke-bottle glasses. At first I couldn’t tell if he was homeless or hipster (or both?). His small, lazy dog was passed out underneath his chair as he sat Indian-style drawing intently in his sketchpad.
The conversation starts
As I glanced over to satisfy my curiosity, his artwork immediately captivated my attention. I noticed he was using a mixture of coffee and India-ink in his sketches. I awkwardly interrupted his train of thought and asked “what are you working on?” As simple as that – a conversation starts. He was excited that someone cared enough to ask and happily started showing me and Candace all his work. He said I could have any piece I wanted – I offered him $20 if I could take two. He enthusiastically agreed.
It gets interesting
After briefly talking about his art and creative process, I started to ask questions about him. It got interesting. I learned that his name is Adam. Or Dustin. Or whatever he wanted to go by that day (his words). I learned that he had two college degrees from when he went to school in Colorado, where he’s originally from (a degree in biochemistry and one in religion). I learned that he hated his mother, and institutions, so he left Colorado to explore the world.
After traveling in Asia, then Peru, he made the decision to not touch money and to live off of the land and the hospitality of locals. He also decided to stop wearing shoes. His mom somehow convinced him to move back to Colorado. After a couple months of soul-sucking capitulation he skipped town to live in California where he would wander the beaches, make rock cities and draw in front of the coffee shop.
We talked about Buddhism, Hinduism, corrupt drug-selling cops, and telepathic alien fish people (I am not kidding). He told me that Jesus was really a Buddhist, and all institutionalized religion is corrupt.
Now we talk some Jesus
By this time in the conversation I’m praying under my breath for God to give me the words to say. Since he brought up Jesus, I asked what he thought about Him and why he came to the conclusion that Jesus was a Buddhist. Finding a bit of common ground, we got into a rich dialogue about the Bible and how Jesus Himself rose up against the religious establishment because they missed the point.
Just as he was agreeing with me, I had to remind Adam of Jesus’ words in John 14:6 where He says “I am the way and the truth and the life…” Jesus didn’t say He was a way, but the way; and He doesn’t allow for a belief that “all roads lead to life” when He emphatically says “no one comes to the Father except through me”.
The conversation went on for another ten or so minutes, sharing the truth about Jesus as often as I could. No, Adam didn’t repent of his sins, renounce his idolatry and give his life to Jesus right then and there. However, a seed was planted. Adam thanked me for being educated about what I believe, and he said that it was refreshing to have a conversation with a Christian who was actually willing to talk to him, rather than brush him off (maybe telepathic alien fish people is too much for some people). I encouraged him to keep seeking the truth and to follow it no matter where it leads, because the road to truth ends with Christ.
We shook hands, parted ways, and Candace and I started praying for him in the car. We quoted scriptures like “one plants, another waters, but God gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:5-8) and “God’s word will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
There are a few things I took away from this encounter.
- Every appointment is a divine appointment, so we should be aware, ready, willing, and able to have spiritual conversations at all times. There are likely dozens of potential missed opportunities to share the Gospel because we are too busy with our own agenda – I want to be busy about His agenda.
- Conversations are pretty easy to start, so we should have more of them. This conversation started with the simple question “what are you working on?” I couldn’t have predicted where the conversation would go from there, but statistically speaking I would have more opportunities to share the Gospel if I was more intentional about starting simple conversations with strangers.
- It’s important to know your stuff. I’m not an expert on many things. I can’t help with conversations about corrupt, drug-selling cops, or telepathic alien fish people, but when the conversation leads to Jesus, the Bible or the Gospel I can add some substance. Adam thanked me for “being educated” about what I believed.
- A little kindness goes a long way. I intentionally made several emotional deposits with Adam. I was legitimately curious about his art. I valued his talents by purchasing his work. I asked about his story. I genuinely cared about him. Making these emotional deposits allowed me the opportunity to maintain civility and Adam’s respect while making a huge withdraw – telling him that his beliefs were wrong and Christ calls him to repentance. The more deposits you make into someone the more weight your withdraws hold in their mind. So be kind and winsome.
It’s conversations like these that have caused me to stop praying for God to open doors of opportunity to share the Gospel. My prayer now is “Lord, help me to be cognizant of the doors I know you’ve placed in my life… Help me to be aware of the divine appointments you’ve set before me today. Give me a willing heart and an able mind to share your love with the people you’ve put in my path. In Jesus’ Name, amen!”
Here are some pictures from that day