Isn’t it great when you see God in a way that you least expect to? That may be the best way to characterize my most recent experience at Flying Burrito. It is amazing to think that God can use the blind to lead the blind. Such a thing brings to mind a verse from Isaiah 42:16: “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn darkness into light before them and make rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”
It all began when I finally responded to the call for UBC to engage Dickson Street. Where I had originally said that I would be involved with reaching out to Flying Burrito, I had not been obedient to do so. After a challenge from Ryan Martin on a Thursday morning in April with some excellent advice on how to be better engaged, I decided that I would jump onboard. That very next Sunday, I went to Flying Burrito with Matt Holmquist, a close friend of mine and fellow member of UBC.
Upon arriving, I took in my surroundings. There were two workers there at the burrito line, a man who appeared to be in his late twenties and a girl who might have been a college student. I was hoping to see the manager somewhere close by so that I could potentially meet him, but he seemed to be nowhere in sight. I assumed that he didn’t work on Sundays, so Matt and I both approached the line, and we made our orders. Seeing as I had never met them before, I introduced myself and simply asked how their Sunday had been so far. We proceeded to dialogue with the workers, and even though our conversation with the workers ended up being pretty short, we still got to know them a little bit better.
Both Matt and I thanked the workers for their kindness and service, and then we sat down and had an excellent conversation over some excellent food. I have since noticed that entering businesses with intentionality seems to lead to excellent spiritual conversations, even if it’s not with an unbeliever. Before leaving, we dropped Flying Burrito a tip and thanked the two workers again for the food.
In the following two weeks, I returned to Flying Burrito, alone on the second occasion. After making my order and thanking the workers, I scanned the restaurant for customers sitting alone, but the other customers all seemed to be in conversations with their friends. Since I hadn’t done a Bible study yet for the day, I opened my Bible and began to read. No sooner had I started reading when I was interrupted by a familiar voice. “So, you read the Bible?” I looked up, and much to my surprise, it was Mark, a worker I had met on a previous visit! “Uh, yeah, I do actually. I really enjoy it. Do you read the Bible?” I asked. He responded simply, “Yes, I do.” Curious, I stuttered, “And, uh, what do you think about it?” He said resolutely, “It is very powerful.” My curiosity was sparked, but it seemed as if his thoughts on the subject were finished.
Our conversation drifted away from the Bible, but the following conversation was still very personal, and I was very thankful for his honesty. He said that he needed to return to work, so he began to head back towards the counter to return to work, but he threw out one last idea. “Have you ever heard of the philosophers named Pythagorus or Enoch?” I said that I had not, and so he suggested that I should look them up. As it turns out, Pythagorus was an early philosopher, most famous for his Pythagorean Theorem involving right triangles, and is the founding father of the religion called Pythagoreanism (now referred to as Neopythagoreanism). To my understanding, the religion is based on the order of the universe being connected to numbers and mathematical logic. Though I did not know these things at the time, I got the hint that it was indeed another religion, and I told him that I would be happy to just sit and listen about the ideas of the philosophers if he would like. He seemed to agree, and then he headed back to work.
God opens doors when we least expect him to. I found out later that Mark is the manager of Flying Burrito. It is so cool to think that I had been talking to the manager all the time that I had been there. Mark is an excellent guy, and my heart longs to see him know the Lord. One of the things that I noted when researching Neopythagoreanism was that its adherents specifically reject monotheism, the following of one God (as opposed to polytheism, the following of many Gods, or atheism, the following of no God or Gods). Upon reading this, it struck me again that there are so many people who have been burned on the church and a false Gospel. There are so many walls to the Gospel, and in a culture and region (the Bible belt) where Christ is presented as a commodity, a deity that requires no change of lifestyle, we repeatedly face a wall that screams, “Nobody really needs Christ! His followers create so much trouble!” I disagree. The Gospel in Christ is solely necessary, singularly redeeming, independently changing those who choose to pursue it, and as one under the Gospel, my heart longs that Mark would come to understand the love of Christ in all of its fullness, the truth of the Gospel, and the beauty of grace. If you are reading this post, please pray for a few things, even now, that God should work at this time. Pray that (1) I would clearly display how I am no different than Mark in sinfulness, a sinner in need of grace, (2) that Mark would understand that Jesus is the only way to this grace, and (3) that Mark would accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior, especially in a culture that so distorts the reality and necessity of Christ.
Needless to say, I am eagerly looking forward to meeting up with Mark again, and I anticipate that God has great things in store for his life and our relationship. Thank you for your prayers, UBC, and I challenge you to get involved in the Dickson Street initiative if you are not already and see how God is at work!