Who Needs Lunch, Anyway?

I remember an unfamiliar driver coming into our plant years ago with a large load of steel. It appeared that he had a busy day of deliveries ahead of him so I worked on with the off-loading task into the lunch break. Once completed, it was clear that each of us wanted to break the ice and chat.

He was a tall good-looking man in his early sixties and had taken on some occasional driving to help a friend broker who was over-worked. I had the feeling that previously there had been a career of much different nature. Somehow the conversation got around to church activities in the Toronto area. This man knew personally many of the personalities associated with the Hundred Huntley Street Ministry. I had enjoyed many of their broadcasts.

But then he dropped a bombshell. "That's part of another life, however. I am very much back-slidden now." The expression on his face was fixed as if to say, 'That's my lot. No two ways about it. It's over for me.'

Some comments suggested to me that there had also been a troubled marriage. Amazing that the man wanted to open up so much with a total stranger. I hardly knew what to say. It wasn't as simple as if to remind him of the parable of the prodigal and the faithful Father's eagerness to bless the son's awkward homeward retreat. This guy knew his Bible. I sensed that he had heard overmuch of Holiness teaching.

Awkwardly the conversation shifted through my efforts to the condescension of our Heavenly Father in having anything to do with any of us. Definitely not the time to speak further of "working out one's salvation with fear and trembling". I noted that his piercing eyes were checking out my manner for signs of sincerity and not simply more of the same old "Church-ese". I am sure that he had had a belly-full of that in his struggle.

By the Spirit, and only by the Spirit, my comments were sympathetic and authentic. It was one of those strange moments where strangers recognized their kinship in Christ. Perhaps he had been given some new hope.

Then he was gone...


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