"Chance Meeting You Here!"

by Pete Johnson on July 30, 2020

This is a blog that I shared with our Youth Group from this past Monday.

Last Monday on the way to the office as I was driving down Jewel Lake Rd toward Dimond by Java the Hut, coffee shack, I noticed a blind man with a “white cane” navigating his way alongside the road. It was raining, and with the puddles of water along the edge of the road, he was having some difficulty staying out of the road. My first thought was, “I should stop to see if he needs any assistance.” I immediately dismissed this thought because he looked homeless, I was running late, he wasn’t wearing a mask, I don’t make it a habit of picking up strangers, and I’m sure he’s fine. However, before I got to the light at Dimond, I felt that I should go back, despite the 5 reasons I shouldn’t. As I pulled my truck off the road to see if he needed any assistance I thought perhaps this is a Phillip and the Ethiopian moment (Acts 8:26-40)!

I turned around and carefully pulled up beside him. I rolled my window down and asked him if he needed help. He happily responded yes and told me where he needed to go. All the way across town?! On top of that, he asked me if I would buy him some food! And yes he was homeless. This wasn’t turning out to be the Phillip story at all. He asked if he could place his hand on my shoulder as I led him to the other side of my truck, so I guided him to the passenger side and assisted him in the truck.

We went through the drive-through at McDonald's, he wanted a breakfast burrito, an egg McMuffin, and a large coffee with 5 sugars and 4 creamers. As I drove him across town, I began to ask him questions. Joe was his name and he began to tell me his story. Joe had grown up in Anchorage and had graduated from a local Christian school. He planned to attend a Bible college in Florida after graduation. He went, but something happened that changed his life drastically. He somehow got involved with the wrong crowd, the wrong friends, and quickly discarded his faith and his family for a life that he described as “What you would see in movies”. Joe became a drug user and a drug dealer. He had lots of money, drugs, women, and expensive cars, all of which contributed to him almost losing his life.

Some may say Joe was lucky, for his movie lifestyle, instead of costing him his life, only cost him his eyesight.  In an argument over money drugs and cars, his then-girlfriend shot him in the temple with a .22. Joe lost his right eye and the damage to the optic nerve in his left eye rendered it useless, completely blind.

During our conversation Joe quoted scripture, quoted poems and song lyrics about God, but stated several times that even though the things that nearly cost him his life, left him blind, destroyed the relationship with his family, and made him homeless, he still desired and used.. drugs and alcohol.

Yea, this was not that Phillip -Ethiopian Eunuch exchange. Not knowing really what to say, I just shared the Gospel with him, something that he already knew.

I pulled up to where he had asked me to drop him off and prayed with him and watched him navigate with his “white cane” down a blocked off road where he said his friend lived.

Just to make sure this was real, I called a friend that I thought would know Joe because of his church and school affiliation, I didn’t want to be duped!  Sadly, Joe’s story was confirmed, all of it was true.

I’m unsure if I will ever see Joe again, and I’m uncertain why I felt as though I needed to pick him up that rainy day.  However, I am sure of the following. God is sovereign and providential and this was not a “chance meeting you here moment.” I am convinced that sin will take you farther than you thought you go, make you stay longer than you thought you would have to stay and make you pay more than you thought you would have to pay.

I’ve been wondering, was this meeting for Joe? Or was it for me, or even for you,  perhaps even for all of us?

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