It was a crazy Sunday morning. I received news at 9:30 that my mom had a heart attack (I thought maybe typing those words would make it seem more real to me – it doesn’t – I still can’t believe she had a heart attack!). Frantic doesn’t even describe the next half hour. Fortunately, I quickly received word that she was doing well and as far as heart attacks go, this was the best-case scenario. She suffered no heart damage, and the cardiologist was very encouraging.
In my two years in Ohio (the rest of my family lives in MD) I never felt so frustrated and helpless. I couldn’t just be there with my mom and the rest of my family. However, God gave me the best husband I know and he immediately made arrangements to fly me to MD. I stopped by the church on my way to the airport to say goodbye to Jason and as I was leaving he said to me, “As I was praying this morning, I thought you might get the chance to share the gospel with someone on the airplane.” In the emotion of the morning, I thought to myself that if ever a gal had a get-out-of-evangelism-free card it was I. After all, hadn’t I just had one of the worst mornings of my life? I was a little distracted by what was going on in my family to be thinking of others, and so went the mental list of reasons why I really didn’t need to be thinking in terms of evangelism that morning.
Eventually I was sitting in the terminal waiting to board the plane. I decided to read my Bible while I waited. I think I smelled him before I saw him. Disheveled and obviously drunk, the man making his way toward me looked like a homeless person who had miraculously appeared in the Southwest terminal. I confess that the thought flashed through my mind, “please may he not sit next to…” too late. There he was sitting right next to me. I continued to read my Bible. In a loud slurred voice the man asked me what I was reading. I told him. He marveled that I could read such fine print. I explained that my glasses helped. He then said, “even if I had glasses I wouldn’t read the Bible.” I asked why. I was completely unprepared for his response. “Because my son was killed on Friday and I’m heading to his funeral.” At this point he broke down sobbing. I’m sure we made quite a picture. Me in my Sunday finest drinking Starbucks and reading my little travel size Bible. Him, dirty, drunk and going between sobbing and talking about how excited he was to be traveling to warm, Florida weather. He was really loud. People were staring.
I offered feeble condolences and before the words were completely out of my mouth the man looked me square in the eye and said, “I was taught in Catholic school that God was all powerful. If He is all powerful, why did He let my son get killed in a motorcycle accident?” More sobbing. I said, “I don’t know why that happened, but I do know this, my husband was praying this morning and thought God told him I might have an opportunity to talk to someone about Him here at the airport. It isn’t an accident that I am sitting right next to you. God sees you and sat us together so I could tell you about Jesus.” I shared the gospel with him. He sort of heard me. I think everyone in the entire terminal heard me.
I am ashamed to say that in my little Christian girl bubble of a world, I judged this man. The thought didn’t occur to me that he was drunk and dirty at 10 am because he was grieving. My heart is still pricked by this when I consider my initial attitude of self-righteousness and self-preservation. I’m grateful that in spite of myself, God gave me the chance to share with him the hope of the gospel. Jason and I call it evangelism for dummies when an unbeliever practically asks you, “could you share the gospel with me?” I am a dummie -not often inclined to share the hope of the gospel with unbelievers. This experience has increased my faith and made me more aware of those around me. Also, I have prayed for the grieving drunk man many times since our encounter. Would you stop and pray for him as well? I don’t even know his name, but I take comfort that God obviously does.
One last thing, isn’t it amazing that on this morning that my mom had a heart attack, God would see this hurting man, put it in Jason’s mind to tell me to look for an opportunity to share the gospel, sit me in a Southwest terminal where I would be inclined to read the Psalms to comfort my own soul, and then sit the man next to me to hear the gospel?! And who knows who else in the vicinity needed to hear the gospel that morning. I’m amazed but not surprised because when I think about it, this is exactly who Jesus came to save.
Luke 5:30-32 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
This Christmas I rejoice in the fact that the Savior came for sin sick people like me…and the grieving drunk man from Gate B9.