Around 5am on a Friday morning my friend Ben and I stopped at a gas station to fill up on gas and get some caffeine to help us stay awake for our eight hour drive. I had been invited to speak and do some street evangelism at a week long youth conference. As we were walking out of the gas station towards my car I noticed that there were some things in my car moving around. I got closer and a big bald man got out of my car.
“Hey, what are you doing in my car?” I said. Right then he walked up to me and punched me in my face twice; knocking my glasses off and breaking my nose. Since he got a clear shot on my nose I instantly teared up so that I couldn’t see. I dropped the 24 pack of pop and started to wipe my eyes, but before I could clearly see I was met by another combination to my face.
I realized that this was going nowhere fast so I did the only thing I could think of, I took the lid off of my large cup of hot coffee and threw it in his face. He stumbled back, and it gave me time to clear my eyes. When I could see, he was ready, arms raised, fists clenched, and walking back up to me. I decided to meet him at a place he understood. I grabbed a hold of him, locked my arm around his neck and set in for a sock-fest.
We must have looked like two mad hockey players. For every hit I took in the face, he took one back from me. After a few moments I yelled “Stop, I’m a minister of the Gospel” (who knows why we say silly things in the heat of the moment? Ben and I got some good laughs later thinking about me yelling that)
“Ok, I’m done, I have had enough, just let me go.”
“What, are you crazy, you broke in my car and you want me to just let you go?” I said holding on as tight as I could.
“I didn’t get anything .” He said.
“That’s not the issue. You got into my car and tried to steal my stuff.”
“Your door was unlocked. Anyone could have gotten into your car.” He said.
“I should be able to leave my car door unlocked, it’s my car. It’s not yours. Why would you get into someone’s car? It doesn’t belong to you. Who cares if my door is unlocked; you have a serious problem man.” I yelled.
“I know I do, I know.” The man said. He started to relax a little. “Just let me go man, I’m sorry.”
“Do you seriously think that I should just let you go? You’re in trouble man; not only with the law, but with God. Do you realize this?
“No because God forgives.” He quickly replied.
“Really? Do you honestly think that God is going to forgive you and that’s it?”
“God’s a good God.” He said looking at me eye to eye.
“You’re right, God is a good God, and let me ask you to look at it this way; if you were arrested tonight for breaking into my car, theft, and assault, do you think that a good judge would let you off?”
At that the man moved from me and leaned up against the gas pump. He looked down at the ground, which was littered with trash from my car and coffee, and then muttered, almost under his breath. “I did stand in front of a judge for this same thing. Honestly I have been in prison for three years and just got out about a week go.”
“Yeah, I just got out of the pen. I was convicted of theft and assault with a deadly weapon.”
“So you were convicted and went to prison for this same thing, and yet you are right here, right now. Not a month out of the pen and doing the same thing that sent you away for a few years. Why?”
“I don’t know, honestly I don’t need anything in your car.”
Then he pointed at a brand new Dodge Ram with a woman sitting in the passenger seat looking out the window at us with her hands over her mouth, “That’s mine. I’ve got a great woman. I’ve got money. I don’t need your car, or anything else in it, I just can’t stop. When I see an opportunity, it’s like a drug man. I’m addicted brother.”
“I know what you mean. It’s called the sin nature. You can’t change it; you can only fight it off for a while. But sooner or later it takes over you. It had me. My hook was hate. I fought guys or girls. I hated everything and everyone. I’ve done some seriously bad things, and I couldn’t stop, like you with this stealing.” Then I reached down into my car seat and grabbed my Bible. “Man, you can’t stop yourself. The Bible says that there’s a day coming when you will die, and then be judged. When that time comes, God is not going to judge you based on all the evil that you didn’t do, or let you go because of the kindness that’s in your heart. God is going to judge you based on righteousness: the 10 Commandments. Are you familiar with them?”
“Yeah you know. So let me ask you, since you think you’re fine with God; because He is a ‘Good God’, if you were sent to prison, for breaking the law, by a judge who was only giving you your due penalty, how much more do you think that a Righteous and Holy God is going to fine you guilty when all of this evidence laid before Him?
He just looked at me without saying a word. I could tell that he was under conviction.
“You see man, your sin nature is driving you to sin, and you can’t stop. There is nothing you can do to stop sinning. It is not possible for you to fully obey all of the 10 Commandments, but because you can’t, you are going to die and go to hell.”
Then I put my hand on his shoulder. “But here is good news; Jesus, the son of God, came to earth and lived out the Law perfectly, then He was crucified as a criminal. Jesus did die, but the blood that He shed did not pay for Him; it couldn’t, because He was perfect. The power of death couldn’t hold Jesus and He rose from the dead and has gone to prepare a place for us in heaven.”
“Because Jesus was man, He was crucified and died; because He is God, His blood -the payment for sin- remains. Who do you think that payment is there for? You! Jesus paid the dept we owe God. It’s the blood of Jesus that makes you righteous again before God. The only thing you have to do is agree with God that you’re a sinner who deserves death, and make a conscience decision to leave the lifestyle of sin behind through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is confession and repentance.”
“I’ve never heard it put to me like that before.” The man said.
“Yeah, I didn’t think so. What it all comes down to is whose going to pay your dept? You can allow Jesus or you can try and pay it yourself, and I don’t think you want to do that. Do you understand what I am saying here?”
The man sat down on the ground by the gas pump. “Yes I do understand.”
“Do you see and understand why you’re a sinner?”
“Yeah, I can.”
“Do you see you need to repent and put your trust in Jesus Christ to pay your dept and help you to live a new life in Him?”
Right then he grabbed a bunch of towels and started to clean the coffee off my car. He helped us clean the trash up and then kept telling me that he was so sorry.
“I saw you guys walking into the store. I noticed your Christian t-shirt, and I figured that you were weak Christians. But you rocked my world man. I know that it was God that had me run into you guys. I’ve gotten tracts from people before, and have had other Christians and preachers try and talk with me, but I thought that they were all crazy. God used your fists to soften my heart, thank you man.”
Ben and I talked for a moment with him and then he gave us his name and asked me to pray for him.
I can honestly tell you that Ben and I had the greatest worship and praise service in my car as we drove up to St.Louis.