He took one look at me from across the small Vancouver airport restaurant and came over like he knew me. With a handshake he introduced himself as ‘Joe.’ Turns out we had not met. Before long we were talking about life, politics, and God. It was Tuesday last week.
Joe’s ability to string together cuss words might have got him into the Guinness Book of World Records, should there ever exist such a record.
I have not heard more unprovoked “F bombs” in one conversation in a long time. Though Joe expressed his views quite passionately, we didn’t argue. He had this endearing quality to him that often surfaced, despite what appeared to be an incredibly rough exterior. I chuckle now, but one time after sharing some thoughts he jokingly presented his middle finger right in my face, with a few choice words about Jesus (blank) Christ; proceeded by an apology to “pardon his French.”
Joe grew up in Canada, but was flying to Thailand that afternoon. He was returning to his newer home to be with his Thai wife and young boy. He had other sons too, three to be exact all over the world. He missed his family and was excited to get “home.” But he wouldn’t be there long. He worked for an oil drilling company based out of Calgary and he was now drilling off shore in Angola (a country he described with more expletives).
His views on God and spirituality were not surprisingly conflicting. He claimed his god may go by a different name than mine but in the end all gods are the same (Jesus, Mohamed, Buddha, God, Gandhi, it mattered none). Yet he was also convinced that he was god, that we all were gods in and of ourselves. On and on the conversation went.
Now just stop for a moment; how many cultural faux pas’ did Joe violate? In our Canadian individualistic culture no one approaches the table of strangers if only to comment on the weather or commiserate the downfall of the Vancouver Canucks 2012 season. His presence was so clearly not accidental.
For some reason Joe had been drawn to our table. He wanted to talk so badly. I noticed immediately the loneliness in the tone of his voice. It was even more visible as I looked into the deep recesses of his tired eyes.
“Why did you come over?” I asked him at one point. His response was, “I’m not sure.” I told him I could envision God bringing him over to remind him that he loved him deeply, and to give us the pleasure of meeting him. He pondered that one for a while.
I asked him if I could pray for him. After a little deflection, he agreed. Strangely he grabbed my hand while I started to pray. I simply asked for Jesus to reveal himself to Joe. When I concluded he said with eyes full of tears, “Sam you are ‘f..ing’ making me cry.”
One more “F bomb” for the road I thought. Made me smile then, makes me smile now.
When I finish posting this blog, I am going to email Joe (by that way that’s not his real name). I am going to ask how his trip to Thailand went and what God said to him as he traveled. I am convinced God is pursuing this guy. He needs a revelation of Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Joe could use a little of all three.
Today I love the thought of evangelism. Forget the winning and losing of arguments. I used to be able to argue and curse with the best of them (OK not quite as efficiently as Joe), but to what end? Sometimes the reality of Jesus in us draws people from across restaurants.
And we get to introduce people to our best friend.