And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28The Lord brings people into our lives for a reason. Sometimes He reveals the reasons to us – but most of the time He doesn’t. But whatever the reasons – revealed or not – nothing happens by accident.
So it was no accident that after an exhausting ride on the bus for 21 hours my phone rang. I had to dig through my backpack carry on in order to answer it.
It was Johnny.
I had actually been thinking about Johnny lately. Ever since my profound theological and spiritual paradigm shift, where it was revealed to me that all men would be saved through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Since I had met Johnny last summer and he committed the ultimate faux pas of grabbing me and kissing me like they do in the movies, I have prayed that the Lord would truly save him. I had told Johnny that I could not be friends with him because I really needed to focus on the things of the Lord, and I believed at the time that it was God’s will that I not be in contact with him. But even after that he still left messages on my voice mail and sent me text messages every month or so saying, “Come to Ontario. I miss you.”
So now that the scales had fallen off my eyes, I began to see people differently. There was a man on the bus ride with me who had tattoos on his face and a tattoo of a spider web on his hand. He was really nice. I actually talked to him a bit when we were stuck in the station for 13 hours. But what I had really noticed about him was his walk. It reminded me of the way that Johnny had walked. I wondered at the time if it was a gang walk or a prison walk, what was it about that walk? Something about it was this air of slow confidence that said, Yeah people, I’m here and you know it. Later he was sitting in the seat in front of me when we could finally head out again. A boy got on at the next stop and sat with him and I overheard the boy ask him where he was headed. “Hell if I don’t change my ways.” He answered matter of factly. I’m pretty sure he had answered that question the same way many times before.
I was still praying for Johnny every day, but now I began to ask the Lord – what about Johnny Lord? Why is he still calling me? Why did we meet? Why do I still think about him? My newfound understanding that Love conquers all and that we are to love people no matter who they are – because Jesus died for them as well – was making me question the legalistic way I had judged Johnny before. The Lord began to show me that here was Johnny: Grew up in the gangs of Southern Oregon, was in trouble all his life, tried to commit suicide by running over a cop with his car thinking the cop would shoot him, but it didn’t work out that way. Did 6 years in prison for that, was released from that prison just to be trapped in the bigger prison of Ontario Oregon, the middle of nowhere with nothing to do. He was seeking the Lord the only way he knew how – going from church to church and talking to the pastors telling them that he was trying to straighten out his life and know the Lord.
I always knew that the reason that I went to Ontario on that amazing trip last summer was to meet Johnny and to pray for him. At the time I thought, who is going to pray for Johnny if I don’t pray for him? But now the Lord began to tell me that it was ok for me to talk to Johnny and befriend him because he is a baby Christian that really needs some encouragement right now. Of course, I made sure to tell the Lord that I would need a confirmation that it was really from Him. I hadn’t heard from Johnny since April, so I told the Lord that if was really His will that it was okay for me to be friends with Johnny now, that the Lord would have Johnny call me again.
So now here he was, on the other end of the line. I told him I was going to Wyoming to help my aunt move and possibly help my 93 year old grandparents. I asked how he was doing and he said, “so it’s ok for us to be friends now?” I said, “yeah, I think so” So I got his address and told him I would write him a letter from Wyoming. He was pretty happy when we got off the phone.
I told this story to my aunt (who is an amazingly strong Christian and I have more to say about her in a later post.) She immediately felt led to put Johnny on our prayer list that we can pray for him that a man with the spirit of truth within him would find Johnny and be a mentor for him and disciple him. She told me, “Everything happens for a reason and there are no accidents with the Lord. It is good that you are here in Wyoming for a season, so you can be a friend but you are too far away to jump in a car and go down and see him. The Lord has a work in Johnny, just as He also has a work in you. Let’s just continue to pray for him.”
Now I am beginning to understand that the Lord didn’t want me talking to Johnny when I was so legalistic. He didn’t want me getting any of my legalism on Johnny and contaminating him, he’s had enough hardship in his life without that. So now I can encourage him in the Lord and see what happens with that day by day.
Pray for Johnny my friends.
Blessings in Christ,