It was 6:10 pm on a dark and stormy Friday night. Karen was not home, and I had been painting some that day on a canvas. It was an adventuresome painting. It was not going as I wished, but that was normal for paintings.
I had just finished dinner. Then, a knock came at the door. I opened to the dark front porch, rain pouring down outside, and there stood a young woman wearing a slicker that looked wet through and a stocking cap with the name “Johnson Windows” embroidered on it. Her dark hair that came down from under her stocking cap was dark and stringy wet. She was of small frame and everything about her shouted: “I’m freezing.” But that’s not what she said.
I stood there astonished at how cold she looked.
“Good evening sir. I’m Angelica and I am working with Johnson Windows and checking to see if you need any windows or doors replaced.”
I was still too stunned at this cold, shivering person to even respond except to say, “My name is Brian. You look freezing. Are you ok? Would you like to step inside to get warmed up and perhaps have a cup of coffee?”
She looked at me, stunned as well as by what I had said.
“Oh. I’d like nothing better,” she said “I’m so cold.”
“I don’t need doors or windows, I’m sorry to tell you, but please step in and get warmed up.”
She did, and I shut the door and began to walk to the kitchen. She said, “If it’s okay, I’m going to back outside to get my partner who’s selling on the other side of the street and tell him where I am. Could he come in as well?”
“Of course,” I said.
And so soon at my table sat Angelica and Bobby, who was as wet as she was, for whom a towel was needed to dry off. Angelica had just done a faceplant outside in the dark in a puddle- she’d tripped on the sidewalk and went straight down. Bobby said how he had heard this “Thud” and went to see what had happened and there she was picking herself up off the pavement.
“Why this job?” I asked. “I mean there must be other possible jobs to seek.” They told me how they had ended up with this company, a big week now.
If Angelica was small of build and short, Bobby was the contrast. He was 6’5” easily, with a lanky build, a joyful countenance, and this real, precious spirit. He was 18 but could pass for 25, and had been traveling alone across the country in a small RV to experience the states a bit without itinerary or destination. He had liked Portland so got a job and an apartment and planned to stay a while. With so many seeking and not finding employment, this joyful, carefree man was a breath of fresh air!
They asked what my job was, and didn’t run out the door when I told them “I’m the pastor of a church,” admired the picture I was painting and we talked about the pictures of the family on the wall. We talked also about faith. I served them coffee and asked if they were hungry and they just wanted an apple. So, I sliced that up and we continued with a rich conversation.
Both of them have had church experience. Both of them are experimenting with who they are and what faith is for them. I told them that’s just where you need to be at your ages. They were surprised I think that I was curious and asked questions.
Angelica, 19, raised Catholic doesn’t see the church doing what it ought to do.
“I have had 3 of the 7 sacraments,” she said. “But I still don’t think I know what I believe.”
Bobby got disgusted with his home church when his pastor committed sexual abuse, went to jail for it, but the church never faced what he had done, talked about it, or processed it. He felt this was a totally wrong way to handle it. And he was right.
I told of my own experience with sexual abuse and how I could understand why that poor handling of a bad situation left a bad taste in his mouth.
“Seriously God. The church needs help. We are such sinful people, and fall so far short of the glory you desire!” I thought.
So, we shared further. Bobby told how he had listened to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy while traveling across the country and loved the person who was the reader for them. Because of his recommendation, I have begun listening to it as well. We laughed and talked more.
“Do you mind if we stay 10 more minutes,” Angelica asked, “then we can just be done for the night.”
“That’s fine with me,” I said.
Angelica then returned to the faith conversation and said, “I think that if you believe in God and seek to live in ways that make a difference for others, you’ll be ok.”
“You know,” I told her, “that is almost what God said to a character in scripture.” I told them a bit about the story of Cain and his brother Abel (Genesis 4) and then quoted what God said to Cain, “If you do what is right will you not be accepted? And if you do not do what is right, sin lies at the door. And it’s desire is for you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7).
“So you almost had it. And it is interesting this is God talking to someone overcome with anger and warns that person, ‘to watch out for sin wants to have you.’ He warns Cain. Did God have to warn Cain? Or could God have just let Cain be?”
They observed that God didn’t have to warn Cain or come to him at all. So, I asked, “What might we learn about the character of God that he came to Cain to speak with him and warn him?”
They discussed how God was demonstrating love for Cain by coming to him; that God wanted more than just obedience, God wanted a relationship with him.
We had this incredible conversation about how much God wants us to know him, to walk with Him not just do the right thing along the way of life. And his largest invitation was given through Jesus.
It was one of those encounters that seemed larger than the time we had to share.
It came time for them to depart. Bobby gave me back the towel he had used which was heavy with water now. And as they put on their shoes, I asked, “Do you mind if I pray for you?”
“Please do,” they said. So as they dressed I prayed over these two adventuresome kids.
As they left they said, “This made our day.”
And as I closed the door behind them, the Spirit of the Lord whispered to me, “Child, I will bring people to you.”