Monday, July 30, 2012

I Came, He Saw, We Conquered

Not long ago, I went on what I thought would be just another lunch break, which at the time, involved a ride down Charlotte Avenue or a walk to the Farmer's Market. After starting my car to an empty gas tank, I decided to drive to the nearest Shell and grab a parking spot to check my e-mails before fueling, as per my usual routine. 

But on this day, something felt different...something I couldn't quite put my finger on but sensed just as much.

Perhaps it was the fact this day, of all days, was literally the hottest day in Middle Tennessee history...complete with sizzling sidewalks and the herky-jerky mirages that make your head spin. 

Seriously, not even the best AC unit in the world could've provided adequate alleviation. Granted, it's hard to combat 109 freakin' degrees of Sahara heat, not to mention an Amazon's worth of humidity. 

At any rate, like any normal human being would do in a similar situation, I rolled down my windows to catch a refreshing breeze willing to counter the cascade of sweat pouring down my face.

But oh...if only I knew what awaited me, I likely would have left the windows up and remained in my
 sauna on wheels.

For not even a minute later, this sketchy-looking drifter, wearing nothing but sandals, a bandana, and blue running shorts, had sauntered up to my window, asking if I was interested in purchasing what appeared to be a decrepit shell of an electrical saw.

The scene was one from a dream. 

For five minutes, this topless vagabond (who mind you...smells like fermented liver and onions) desperately pitched this “incredible” deal in hope I would take a $150 saw off his hands for $25, a sum which would provide him enough money to do laundry, take care of “personal business”, and catch the next bus to West Palm Beach. 

As story would have it, the guy had been wandering around the Music City for an entire month, traveling by foot from place to another trying to "get by" as he nursed a "serious" arm injury. The problem was nothing in his story was adding up. He could have been in a mooching contest with his peripatetic peers for all I know. Fact is...if this guy's intent was to ramp up the sympathy points, he wasn't doing a very good job. 

Yet, it was at the point my critical spirit peaked when I heard a still small voice encouraging me to swallow my pride and help the guy out. 

Of course, I knew at that point I couldn’t resist. After all, I wanted to be obedient...but also shake the guy off my tail. I figured...perhaps some compliance would be my ticket out of this jam! 

So I invited the guy into my car and set course to the nearest Regions/Goodwill Store. 

At first, everything seemed to go well. I told him I would accept his offer at $20, he agreed, and before long, he was spitting out online selling tips; however, any small talk pleasantries would soon fade, once the man revealed his name (Scott Peterson) and his past (a recently released 22-year prison inmate). 

Yet, just as my life started to flash before eyes to tune of a thousand dramatic chipmunks, the Lord started to settle my nerves. For one thing, this Scott Peterson was born in the 1950’s, not 1972 like the convicted Scott Peterson (who apparently is still serving on death row). And secondly, this man possessed a charming blend of humor and positivity. If he was dangerous, he certainly didn't fit the profile.

Whatever the case...the more we talked, the more my discomfort began to melt away...and after 30 minutes of fine verbal dining, the light bulb finally went off:

Chauffeuring this lost (in more ways than one) man who desperately needed some light was, no doubt, a divine appointment. Thus, this situation I found myself in was not so much a random coincidence as much as a Spirit-driven setup.

Eventually, Scott and I found the Goodwill Store, where we exchanged farewells and finalized some "last-minute business" (i.e. I told Scott to keep the $20, as well as the electrical saw, as I had no need or time for it). 

But before driving off, that still small voice returned, urged me to pray with Scott...and for the next three minutes, all I can say is the power of prayer was activated...and moved Scott enough to return the favor and part with four words I'll next forget: “I’ll see you again.”

As I turned back onto Charlotte Avenue, I knew I had made the right call. I figured...even if Scott had decided to squander the $20 on alcohol or cigarettes, it wouldn’t have changed the fact that I got to make his day while being fully obedient to the Master's call. 

Needless to say, I'll never forget my experience with Scott Peterson. While the encounter was certainly unconventional, it, no doubt, reminded me the importance of always being ready, particularly to help the needy...even if it doesn't sense from the onset. 

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