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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Lunch or Saving George?

"Obedience is better than sacrifice." (1 Samuel 15:22 NLT)

Driving along the road I saw a dusty-haired hitchhiker. I heard a still small voice. Not an audible voice, a gentle nudge. Pull over. I did what any woman would do driving past a male hitchhiker, I kept driving.

Turn around. Attempting to ignore the inclination, I reasoned what's the point of stopping if unable to give him a ride? Pulling into the lot to turn around on an 85 degree cloudless day seemed foolish at best.

Turn around. Relentless urging continued and I did a quick donut and headed toward the hitchhiker standing outside the gas station. This was crazy!

The man was holding a sign: "Need Ride to Vegas." As I slowly inched my car to the curb, a metallic odor wafted by.

"Hey, I can't give you a ride, but something told me to pull over. Nice day out today."

I felt the need to establish a boundary here, so there would be no false hope of securing a ride to Vegas, or misconceptions of flirting.

"Hullo," he said gruffly, avoiding eye contact.

"I'm just on my lunch hour from work. And I've never done this before, but that still small voice inside told me to pull over."

"Whatever," he said, looking into the sun.

Nice response. I hoped he didn't have a knife.

"My name is Ellen. What's yours?"

"George."

Unsure of what to say to a man with what-looked-like his entire life in a bag, I silently prayed for wisdom.

"Can I pray for you, George?"

"Pray that someone would gimme a ride to Vegas," he said sarcastically.

"George, do you believe in God?"

"If he gets me a ride to Vegas I'll believe."

With shoulders slumped under his tangled hair, tanned skin and grey coat on a gorgeous late summer day, he broke the silence and looked in my direction; but not at me.

"Are you really on your lunch break?"

"Yes and three times I felt the urge to turn around. Can I talk honestly with you for a minute?"

"Sure," he said as he stared at his feet.

"I did not come to know Jesus until I was 39. I cried out to Him from a one-bedroom apartment and asked Him to help me," I said leaning further out the car window. "Have you ever asked God for forgiveness of your sins?"

"No, I don't believe in that stuff," he said sloping against the chain link fence.

"God sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins. I was a sinner, but one day I asked God for forgiveness and accepted by faith that Jesus died for my sins. I also asked Him to save me so that I wouldn't take a drink again."

"Did it work?"

"Yes, God loves to answer those prayers that bring Him glory. He is alive and wants to help you, too. Today could be the day of salvation for you, George."

I remembered stashing Gospel tracts in the glove compartment and pulled one out.

"Here is a tract that explains what I just tried to tell you. Before I came to believe, people frequently handed me tracts. I read each one, sometimes while drunk with one eye closed."

This commanded his attention as he knew I was speaking truth. He held the pamphlet and turned it over. The title was: "The Longest Road Home." When he opened the tract, he fell back on his heels.

"It has my name in it!"

As God would have it, the tract was a story about a hitchhiker named George.

"See how much God loves you, George! His Word says, 'God bears witness with signs and wonders.'" (Hebrews 2:4)

He coughed wiping his nose while fighting back tears.

"Three times God whispered for me to pull over and all I could think about was lunch."

"What are you 'gonna eat now? Someone just brought me Burger King."

"I'm not hungry anymore. Somehow meeting you filled me up," I said.

"Thanks," he said smiling for the first time. And like a man awakening from a lifelong nap, he looked rested and peaceful.

Obedience is better than sacrifice.

Copyright © 2012 by Ellen Diederich.

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