As you probably know very well, this was my final week. And as the last person I would meet with in my journey, my dad wanted someone special for me to spend my day with. So he called his friend Donnie Stewart. Donnie is a long-time friend of ours, and even though it was a big commitment, he agreed to come and finish off my journey. Okay, you might say, so he spent a couple of hours driving to Cleveland. It’s only a day out of his life; what’s the commitment in that? Well, Donnie and his family live in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland about 4,000 miles away from Tennessee. Now you’re getting the picture. So I got to indulge in fellowship with a man who, even though he’s from halfway across the world, can understand your thoughts and problems like a brother.
We left the house around nine, after having a small breakfast. Despite that breakfast, we still felt hungry, and the first place we went to was Gardner’s Market. I ordered a muffin and an egg-and-cheese croissant, and Donnie just got the croissant. We stayed there for an hour, talking and discussing the church’s principles and whether or not they are right. For instance, some churches have people stand on street corners and yell, “All of you sinners are going to Hell!” Well, they know that. They aren’t looking for an obvious fact, most of them just want answers to their questions. So instead of keeping to your secluded street corner, get out there, help them, and give them what they’re looking for! Also, ministers and pastors seem to think that it’s not Christian to go into a bar, or a joint, or a strip club, merely because there’s sin and filth there. As Donnie says, “You can’t reach the sinner, without encountering the sin.” That’s true, you know. Donnie also told me, “It’s not what you don’t look at, it’s what you see when you do look that makes the difference.” In other words, if you go into a strip club wanting to preach the gospel, and there’s all these scantily dressed women around, you don’t have to go, “Uuuugh!” and get on your high horse out of there. Instead, you can look deeper and see someone who is at a dead end and doesn’t know where to turn. Don’t worry about ‘keeping your eyes holy from sin’, worry about the person who’s covered in that sin and look deeper through it, right to their heart.
And going right along with that same subject: if you want to witness to people, don’t start off by condemning them. That’s exactly what they expect from a “Christian”. But if you walk up to a Gothic person and say to them, “Hey, I love the tattoo! Where’d you get it?” They sure won’t be expecting that, and the ball is now in their court. Because you have began the conversation with a positive comment, it opens them up more to what else you have to say. That doesn’t mean to lie and flatter them unnecessarily, you just have to find something good about them and point it out.
Donnie and I talked this way for over an hour before leaving the restaurant; we dug deep, and drew up a lot of water out of the well, so to speak. Still, we felt like doing something other than sitting in a chair at a table, so as soon as we left, we went to K-Mart. We browsed around in the toy-and-game section for a while, got some laughs out of some of the moronic names that games these days have, and grabbed a coffee for Donnie. Then we sat back down and talked some more.
Once we had left K-Mart, both of us were starting to feel a little peckish, so we walked on over to Steak ‘n Shake for lunch. The food was great, but we were so stuffed by the end we could barely finish our shakes, and I actually had to put the rest of mine in a to-go cup. To let our lunch settle a bit, we went back to the mall and looked around some more. You know, it was amazing to see how, even though we were in the middle of the mall at three in the afternoon, Donnie’s brain was still acting like he was standing in the middle of the pulpit on Sunday morning. For instance, we happened to spot a section of Bratz™ dolls. Of course, they were dressed in something resembling a scanty bikini. Donnie saw the toy, and his mind immediately madup that new saying about it not being important what you don’t look at, but what you see when you do look that’s the difference. I mean, who else but a pastor would see a half-naked doll and think up a new aphorism?
Well, our time together (as always) had to have an end, and we came back home around five. I found out today that not only did Donnie have a mind wise beyond his years, but also that I knew next to nothing about his character and his dedication. He taught me a lot about striving after God, and living according to his will. He also reminded me that it isn’t “Your will be done as long as it corresponds to my plan,” it’s “Your will be done period.” So next time you or I feel like shirking responsibility, or putting ourselves first, just think of Donnie, who came halfway around the world for a teen-aged kid with acne on his face, and was able to connect with me and my life in some of the most unimaginable ways possible.
Filed under: My Journey