Friday, July 10, 2009
I was so tremendously blessed this morning. Not one; not two; but all three of my daughters went fishing with me, today.
The four of us made the twenty-minute drive to the NoHo Metro Station, in North Hollywood. As I take what I hope will be a brief hiatus from preaching outside the San Fernando Superior Courthouse (I hope to be able to share more about this with you later), the NoHo Metro Station has become one of my favorite fishing ponds. NoHo Metro is actually more like a stream than a pond. While people do gather to wait for trains and buses, there is also a constant flow of people, many in a hurry, who stream by.
We began by distributed gospel tracts.
I saw a young man leaning against a wall. He was wearing a Michael Jackson t-shirt. I approached him and he agreed to record an interview with me.
After I finished the interview, Michelle hopped onto the box and read all of First John aloud, in the open-air. Michelle had to work on the 4th of July, so she didn't have the opportunity to participate in Project Ezra that day. One man thought of heckling her, but I nipped that in the bud.
I followed Michelle by reading James 4, using it as a springboard for my open-air. Several minutes into my preaching, I noticed that a car had stopped along the curb behind me. The lady who was driving the car honked her horn to get my attention. I glanced at her and saw her motion to me with her index finger. She wanted me to come to the car. Having no idea what the lady wanted, not knowing whether she was friend or foe, I continued to preach.
The lady did not leave. When I stepped down from the box, the lady leaned from the driver's seat, across the front passenger seat, and called to me through the open window.
I walked to the car and leaned forward and bent down.
"I've been walking with the Lord since 2001." She said.
Here name was Lilly.
Lilly had to be in her 60's. However, the condition of the interior of her car, which was filled with personal belongings and debris, coupled with her unkempt and dirty appearance, told me that Lilly may not have been as old as she appeared. Her hands were frail and leathery. The pinkie on her right hand was badly disfigured, as if it had been broken a long time ago, with the bones having never been reset.
"Are you Pentecostal?" She asked.
"No. But I am a Christian."
"You're not Jehovah's Witness, are you?"
"No ma'am. I am a born-again follower of Jesus Christ."
"Oh, good." She said with a sigh of relief. "I was a Jehovah's Witness. So was my husband. He died from diabetes. First he went blind; then he lost his toes; then his kidneys failed."
"I'm very sorry to hear that."
It was obvious to me that Lilly was living in her car and that she had been on the streets for some time.
"Before my husband died, he told me that he realized he wasn't right with God. He said he no longer believed what the Jehovah's Witnesses taught. He said he asked God to forgive him and he asked Jesus to save him."
Tears began to stream down Lilly's dirty, wrinkled cheeks. Even though she had shared what I thought was wonderful news, there was still a great deal of sorrow in her eyes.
"But my husband wasn't baptized."
"Lilly, a person doesn't have to be baptized to be saved."
"No. Do you remember the story of the thief on the cross."
"Here was a man who was a criminal, condemned to die. Even as he hung on his own cross he hurled insults at Jesus. Yet, in those last moments before he died, God brought him to repentance and faith. He begged Jesus for mercy, and Jesus told him that he would be with him in paradise.
"He wasn't baptized. He died on that cross. While it's true that Christians should be baptized as a testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ, baptism is not required for salvation.
"Lilly, what you described to me sounds like your husband repented and received Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior, before he died. If that's what really happened, then He is in the presence of the Lord."
Although the tears continued to flow, Lilly smiled and her eyes brightened.
"Where do you go to church?" She asked.
"I attended Granada Hills Community Church, on Balboa, just south of the 118. You can't miss it. There's a large mural of Jesus walking on water, on the side of the building. You're welcome to come and visit, if you like."
Lilly looked down as if she was inspecting her appearance. "I can't go looking like..."
"Lilly, we don't care what you look like. Come. You're welcome in our church."
Lilly took me by the hand and said, "Thank you."
"Do you have a Bible?"
"Oh, yes! I have three. I have the Bible in both English and Spanish."
We chatted for a few more minutes before Lilly pulled away from the curb and drove down the street. I wonder if I will see her again.
As I considered the conversation with Lilly; as I considered her plight, I could not help but to consider her confident assurance and peace in Christ and what seemed to be the new-found joy in her heart about her husband's eternal resting place. I also could not help but consider the words of my Lord Jesus Christ.
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:25-34).
Today, as a result of preaching in the open-air, I was blessed to meet one of the Lord's lilies of the field.