I did something last night that I have never done before.
I bought a hotel room for a complete stranger.
It is neither something most people can say they have ever done nor something that is in the top five on their bucket list. But, I guess that is one more thing I have to put a finger down on if I ever play “Never Have I Ever…” again.
In all seriousness, it was kind of a surreal night. But, before the hotel room purchase there were events that led me to that spot. The first of which was the Passion University Tour.
If you do not know what the Passion movement is, I would encourage you to check out the website for more about who they are and what they do. The short of it is they make Jesus famous and encourage the next generation to do so as well. They traveled across various college campuses east of the Mississippi leading nights of worship, preaching, and raising awareness for Passion 2012, which will be held at the Georgia Dome in January. Louie Giglio is the main speaker of the Passion movement, and since he lives in Atlanta, Athens is not too far away. So, he made the trip and spoke live–as opposed to via video like he had done for the other tour dates. Louie brought a fresh word from the Lord that blew everyone–all 1,200–away. He talked about how we have to have an experience with the living God in our lives so that others can see a difference in our lives in the way we speak, act, and live. In order for that to happen, we must have a personal revival, and if UGA had enough personal revivals it would spontaneously erupt into a campus-wide revival because everyone would see how different lives are being changed by interacting with this God. In our personal revivals, if we experienced Jesus, He would be on our lips and we could not help but share it with others.
I was sitting in my seat praying as some of the songs were playing, and my prayer was: “God, give me an opportunity to talk about Jesus. Give me an opportunity to show the love of Jesus to someone–anyone.” That was all I prayed. I figured that there would be an opportunity that would open up in class or something, but I had no idea the opportunity was just a few hours away.
Wednesday nights have a kind of routine for me. I come home, do homework, and eat. Then I attend Wesley on campus. After Wesley, I meet up with two other guys at Taco Bell for a late night, second dinner. We’ve been doing this for almost a year now. It is a time for us to just sit around, eat, and talk about life. Nothing is off limits, and it actually one of the most rewarding times during the week. I look forward to it every week.
I met the guys at Taco Bell after Passion like normal. We sat at our table, talked about life, and ate. Nothing was out of the ordinary. After about an hour we usually move our conversation to the parking lot for a few minutes before we leave. We were standing around talking outside when I saw a guy start walking towards us. I remember saying, “Uh-oh, here he comes.” I figured he was just another homeless guy looking to pocket some change, but surprisingly he wasn’t.
He was looking for a cigarette. Not much better I suppose, but we told him we didn’t have any and we were sorry we couldn’t help him. Then he launches into his story about how he came up from Savannah to stay with his friend in Winder who had diabetes, but when he got to his house he had been moved to Athens for treatment. He had gotten into town and tried to stay at the Salvation Army, but they were full. He went to a couple churches to try and see if they could help, but nothing panned out. He told he wasn’t an alcoholic, drug addict, or homeless guy. He had just not been at the right places at the right time and did not have a place to stay. He asked us if we knew anywhere he could go to stay.
I hate these situations. I always feel awkward listening to a story that I’m not quite sure if it’s true or not. Trying to pick out whether something is real or fabricated can be difficult for me sometimes, especially when it’s someone I don’t know. Also, I’m not a very compassionate person. I have very little mercy when it comes to other people, and, to be honest, I have been dealing with a lot of emotional issues of my own and others recently. So my tank was extra low.
But for some reason, my heart went out to this guy. I listened and tried to understand where he was at and what was going on. We confessed we didn’t know of any places that were open that late that would able to help him out, and he talked about trying to get a hotel room but didn’t have enough money to stay the night.
Things had been running through my mind the whole time he was talking, but in a split-second I spoke up and offered to drive him to a hotel and help him out with a room. I got a quizzical look or two from the guys, but I invited him to jump in my car as I would drive him to the Best Western down the street. And down Atlanta Highway we went.
I asked him more about his friend and his story, just enough to keep the awkward silences at a minimum. We pulled into the Best Western, walked to the late-night window, and I bought him a room for the night. Just as simple as that. He thanked me and my friends and before he walked away to the room, I just laid a hand on his shoulder and told him that I was sorry life came together for this kind of “perfect storm,” but I just wanted him to know that there are people in Athens that do love him–Jesus loves him and the church loves him. That’s all I said as we shook hands and left.
That was it. I have not heard from him since, nor do I really expect to. As I think back to the events of the night and what it all led up to, there are few thoughts that I have been mulling over:
- God answers my prayers; sometimes it’s immediately.
- I need to live a lifestyle of generosity because God has blessed me with much; I should not hoard it but rather be willing to give it freely.
- I do not deserve anything I have; it is a gift of grace and mercy every day.
- Life happens and I do not have control over it; trust God because he is in control.
- I have a heart that is selfish and sinful; compassion is evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in my life.
- Revival is always on the brink of starting; the change has to start in my life first.
- Knowing about Jesus is an important foundation to have; loving like Jesus is the most important thing you can do.
- Do for one what you wish you could do for all.
I do not write this post to show you how incredible I am. In fact, that is the complete opposite of what I want this to do. I want to show you how God works. How he moves us from one place to another to prepare us for something that is coming down the road–even if it is just later that night. I never would have prayed that prayer of opportunity if I had not been at Passion. I would not have been convicted by the Holy Spirit of actively loving Jesus if Louie had not spoken. I would not have met the man I helped out if I had not been at Taco Bell.
Amidst the routine of life, God is preparing you for a moment. That moment might be years down the road, but each encounter is a moment he is using to shape you into who he wants you to be in the future. Be aware of what is going on around you, and in a moment where an opportunity is presented do not call a prayer meeting to discern the will of God for that moment. Step out in faith and act. Be amazed where God leads you, and be humbled that you get to be a part.
You never know, you could end up buying a hotel room for a homeless guy who just needed a place to stay for the night.
You never know.