The stories of the greats of faith inspired me growing up. I would go so far to even say they in a sense discipled me. I was mesmerized by Hudson Taylor’s radical ways, George’s Mueller’s devotion to prayer, Amy Carmichael’s fierce commitment and more. Then there were the more modern stories of Bruchko trusting God in the deep jungles and Brother Andrew smuggling Bibles into the Eastern Bloc nations. I didn’t just want to read these stories. I wanted to know that kind of God and experience those amazing things myself.
So when I came across a modern day book, The Ultimate Treasure Hunt, it was no surprise that I was enthralled with the stories and wanted to experience the same. The premise is to pray and ask God for “clues” about a person He wants to reach. Then go find them.
Being more inclined as a teacher and less as an evangelist, this was attractive concept to me. Instead of walking up to some random stranger and talking to them about Jesus, instead ask God who He wants to minister to and go on a search for them. The stories in the book and those I know who have done this sounded amazing.
Let’s Do This!
I had another friend at the time who was also reading the same book. It was she who initiated the plan to go and try this out for ourselves. So we gathered together, prayed for a quick 2-3 few minutes, and asked God for clues.
As we were praying I saw a black and white picture in my mind people walking. And I also saw a picture of two women in pink pants.
My friend saw a lot more. She felt the words “pizza” (specifically Little Caesar’s), “painful knees”, “green shirt”, “bald head.” So the best way to begin we thought was to head to K-Mart which had a Little Caesar’s inside and look for women in pink pants or a bald-headed man in a green shirt.
On the outside I was excited about trying this method of evangelism out. Eager even. I really wanted to see something happen. I wanted to have a story of my own to tell. Not someone else’s.
But the truth is I had my doubts. I want to believe more, but sometimes I find it easy to believe God will do great things for others. Even give others miracles.
For example I pray often for people to get healed. Not the I-hope-you-go-to-a-doctor-and-get-better prayer, but that Biblical kind of prayer for actual healing. I have friends who pray for healing and see people healed regularly. Right here in the USA! But for me? I’ve prayed for hundreds and have only witnessed 1.5 healings. Well…make that 2.5. But more on that later.
Anyway when I need miracles, or when I want to see God move, I confess that I have more faith that something won’t happen. It’s not where I want to be, and I am growing out of it, but those doubts still linger. Especially when stepping out into new risks.
So we arrived at K-mart and went to Little Caesar’s. Lo and behold there was a woman at the check-out counter. In pink pants! We were thrilled. And clueless. What to do next? We discussed one of us going to her. I felt unsure. But then it looked like she would leave the area. My friend took courage.
With as much awkwardness as one could unintentionally have, my friend approached her and asked her if she needed prayer or anything. She looked at us strangely sensing we were definitely weird. Her body language clearly told us to keep our distance. Not pushing it, we retreated. It was uncomfortable to say the least.
So then we started wandering K-Mart. Next we saw a man in a bright green shirt. But his head had more than enough hair for two. Not the one. We saw others but nothing matched more than one word on our prayer list. We continued to wander K-Mart for another ½ hour seeing no one that fit our description.
After awhile we decided to go to Pizza Hut thinking maybe we got “pizza” right but the brand wrong. We sat outside in the parking lot searching for someone to match our description. There was not one person even close.
My discouragement was growing and my hope was tanking. My friend suggested we pray again and we did. I got nothing. The heavens seemed empty. But then she spoke.
“I think his name is Mike,” she said. Ok. So we added it to our scrap paper list of things we had sensed in prayer.
Next we went to Wal-Mart and started looking around again. You would have thought at least someone would have fit our description. But there was no one.
We had been searching for what we thought we heard in prayer for more than an hour now and had nothing to show for it. It was beginning to feel like other things I had tried that seemed to go well for others but not me. In one sense I was feeling deflated. In another sense it was what I was kind of expecting.
I suggested to my friend that we call it quits.
“Let’s try one more time,” she said. “The book says that sometimes things happen when you least expect them or when you are about ready to give up.”
That’s exactly where I was at.
“You saw people walking,” she continued. “Let’s go to the walkway along the river.”
The Other Side of Discouragement
The town we were in had a small river with a nice walking path along it. So we went.
We pulled in, parked and looked up. We stopped and stared.
“HOLY ________!” My friend exclaimed in utter amazement and incredulity.
I think even God may have laughed.
But there he was. A bald man in a green shirt. We both knew in our spirits it was him.
“What do we do now?” she asked.
“Let’s go!” I said, leaping out of the car.
I approached the man excitedly.
“I know this is strange and all but we were praying about who God wanted to touch today and we think it is you. Can we pray for you?”
“Sure, I guess,” he answered.
“Do you have any pain in your body?” my friend asked.
“My knees hurt.”
My friend and I look at each other and audibly almost shouted, “WOW!!!! That’s Amazing!!!”
He looked confused.
Two women sat nearby, probably family, watching with engaging curiosity.
Seeing their perplexed faces we explained that while praying we had felt led to pray for man with bad knees.
“So can we pray for you for knees?” we asked eagerly.
So we bent down to the ground, holding our hands nearby in prayer, and started asking that God would heal him and deliver him of pain.
“Lord, heal this man of his pain! Heal his knees Lord!”
We had been praying several minutes when my friend as an aside asked him, “By the way, what is your name?”
“Mike,” he answered.
“NO WAYYY!!!!!” We shouted.
I whipped out the list and showed him where we had written down his name. I tore that part off and gave it to him.
He was dumbfounded. So were we.
The next several minutes were spent talking to him and asking him if he was a Christian or not. He said he had stopped going to church a couple of years previous but had thought about going again. We encouraged him to do so and just generally tried to encourage him in the faith.
The whole thing was surreal. I was experiencing an unbelief of another kind. The kind of “wow” moment that God so sovereignly led us to this man. Down to his name! And not just for us but for Mike. Here was a loving God wanting to encourage this straying son.
After we finished praying, we thanked him and started walking toward the car, shaking our heads in surprise, joy and laughter. It had been quite the adventure in the Lord.
But we didn’t realize it wasn’t over just yet. God had one more thing to show us.
As we were almost to the car I turned and noticed something on the picnic table near Mike and his friends. I looked closer and gasped in astonishment. You’ll never guess what I saw.
Five boxes full.
And I’m betting you can already guess the brand.
God is amazing.