” 11 And He said, “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. 13 And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.14 Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.16 And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. 17 But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” 20 So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
— Luke 15:11-24 (NASB)
Trying to find a comfortable way to sleep is next to impossible when your Grey Hound bus is stuffed like a can of sardines and person next to you decides that you make a comfortable pillow. Being stuck like that for two days makes you more inclined to sit by yourself whenever you get the chance. Unfortunately as the last person to board the bus, I saw only a few scattered spots and none next to my family, so I reluctantly took a seat next to a young man.
Thinking to myself that maybe the two-day trip would go a lot faster if I had someone to talk to, I decided to start a conversation with the person next to me. We introduced ourselves and talked about the interesting things we saw outside the window and whatever else grabbed our interest. As the conversation continued I felt the Holy Spirit encouraging me to tell him that his mom was praying for him and that I should pray for him. I didn’t want to be weird or intrusive so I danced around the topic of church and he told me that he use to go but he “wasn’t part of that stuff.” Feeling kind of dumb and not wanting to be rude, I just left it and continued our conversation.
The time came for us to switch to another bus and I asked him to save a spot for me so we could finish our talk. That voice telling me to pray for him still didn’t leave so I said, “Lord, if you want me to witness to him let it just happen.” Sure enough the conversation turned to religion and spirituality. Seeing that I might get the chance to satisfy that itch, I told him about what I thought about those things and what God had done in my life. Soon enough he looked at me said that this is “freaky.” I asked him why, and he shared with me his reason for getting on this bus.
About a year ago he had told his parents that he saw many wealthy people who were rich and happy without God and that’s how he wanted to live. He decided to leave his family and moved in with his girlfriend. This journey took him to a lifestyle that brought him in contact with extensive drug, alcohol, and domestic abuse. He told me that during this time depression took over. At one point he got so low that he took a razor blade and carved into his forearm “F- up”. Wanting to turn his life around he started talking to his parents again, and his parents asked him to turn back to Christ. He said “yes” but he told me that it was an empty promise he made just to get them to be quiet. In reality he had no intention of fixing his walk with God. The only concern he had was in fixing the emotional and financial problems he faced.
Seeing that scar on his arm and tears in his eyes I told him that that’s not how God sees us. Bad things happen and we make foolish decisions but we don’t have to stay there. Casting your burden on the one who already has His hand scarred for you is all you need to do.
After he had finished his story I told him how as soon as I sat down next to him I had this feeling that I should pray for him and that his mom was praying for him. Kind of smiling to himself he told me that his mom had told him when he got on the bus that “God is not done with you, and you are going to be like Jonah on this trip.”
. It was at this moment he said that he wanted to have Jesus come back in his life, and with tears of joy he expressed that for the first time he had been able to experience Jesus in a personal way. Right there on the bus we prayed together and he surrendered his life to the Lord. Little did he know that our smelly bus sufficed as a big whale.
As we parted ways I couldn’t help think what his mom had said to him right before he left. It’s interesting that she used the analogy of Jonah running away from God. To me the miracle was that when Jonah was in the wrong place, God had the whale in the right place. People that we interact with everyday might be walking or even running away from God but can we honestly look back and say that we were in the “right place” to bring them to Jesus. Though we are lost, God always manages to send a compass to find a way in our hands. The only job that the compass needs to do is to point to what is true, and as Christians our only job is to point to the cross. In the video Moises summed it up perfectly when he said that all you have to do is “open your heart and open your mind, don’t let your heart grow cold.” Allow your life to point to Jesus and be the compass that the world needs.