Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 365: Last day

Carl was missing a few teeth. He had been driving a cab up Rock Island street in Old Town, just north of Douglas. He had been driving slowly, apparently looking for the person he was supposed to pick up. He gave me a look, and I flagged him down.

I was kind of selective tonight. It's the last day of the project, and I didn't want to grab just anybody to pray for. But at the same time, I was in a hurry. I needed to get home so Mary could get off to a meeting. So I walked through Old Town and was almost back to my car when I stopped Carl.

I motioned for him to roll down his window, which he did. He was 40-something years old with a ball cap, glasses and those missing teeth. I asked to pray for him. He just looked at me. "Why?" he asked. So I told him about my project. "I just like to pray for one person everyday," I said. He considered that for a moment. "Well," he said, "I'm going to pick up a fare, otherwise I would let you."

That wasn't a good reason. "Don't you have 10 seconds? That's all it would take," I said. He didn't fight it. He seemed like a friendly guy, and he said I could pray for him. So I bowed my head and prayed a prayer of safety and blessing on him for the evening. Then I shook his hand. He told me his name was Carl. He thanked me then -- "God bless," he said as he drove away.

And so I walked back to my car, whispering praises to God, so thankful he carried me through this project. I know it was all Him the whole way. It couldn't have been me, because I would have found some excuse to quit. God didn't let me quit. And so he humbled me.

And maybe that's what he wanted all along -- to show me his power. Maybe he just wanted me to know that when he starts a project, he finishes it. People come into projects -- big ones and little ones -- with all our human frailties. I'm convinced that if it's worthwhile, we can't do it on our own. We need Him.

To everyone who's reading this, thanks again for all the prayers and support. And so that's it for now. I may reflect again on this later. But I don't know when that will be. I do know I'm not going to pray for someone tomorrow ... at least I don't think I will.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 364: Roy from Tulsa

He was a tall skinny guy, standing next to a little white car, filling up with gas at the Park City QuikTrip. I was getting gas, too, but I didn't wait long to ask him my question. He was, after all, the reason I was there.

The guy looked at me and then smiled really big. It was a nice smile. He struck me as a guy who had a lot of energy. He said I could pray for him, but, "May I ask why?" I told him I like to pray for someone everyday. That pretty much satisfied, and he stepped toward me so I could pray for him.

Afterward, we shook hands, and he asked me what my name was. His was Roy, and he was from Tulsa, traveling back home after visiting his parents in Nebraska. He was more than half way there now -- just two and a half hours left. I wished him a safe trip.

And then I got back into my car, knowing that I have just one day left in this project.

Today, I gave my testimony during church about this project. This comes almost exactly a year after my pledge to start it. The pastor's sermon was about witnessing -- where we tell of what God has done for us. That's what this project is about for me. It may be about other things for other people. But at the core of it for me, what God did in my life during this year, is show me what he can do. God did this, not me. But I got to be a part of his activity in the world. I am so thankful for that.

I'm also so thankful for all the prayers of support and the words of encouragement I've gotten along the way from people both inside and outside the church. (Thank you!) Part of this has been wondering what people think about all of this. Do people think I'm a kook? I don't really care, but it means so much to know there are praying and supportive people out there.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 363: Light bulbs

It amazes me how many light bulbs it takes to run such an ordinary household. And it's not just the quantity. It's the different variations in size -- the ones with the really small tips, the ones that are normal, the ones that are round, the ones that are oblong, the incandescent ones, the fluorescent ones. You get the point.

So I was standing in the light bulb aisle for a good 10 minutes trying to figure out what to buy. There was a tall guy stocking shelves next to me. So before I left, I stopped to ask to pray for him. He was fiddling with some empty boxes at the time, but he paused to look at me. "Why?" I told him I like to pray for someone every day.

He let that soak in, and then he just said "yes." It wasn't an eager "yes," or even a really reluctant one. He just agreed. So I prayed for him right there in the aisle. There wasn't much to say after that. So I thanked him and left.

Just two days left.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 362: Tattoos

I walked through Old Town and didn't find a good opportunity to pray for someone, so I got in my car -- frustrated -- and started to head for home. That's when I saw a guy walking down Mead Street just next to Douglas. So I pulled off immediately into a parking space and started walking toward him.

He didn't stop at first, so I had to work a little to get his attention. He was a young thin guy, in his 20s, with tattoos up and down his arms. He was wearing sagging pants. But he didn't really look all that tough.

I asked him my question, and he gave me that familiar look. "Pray for me? Why?" So I told him I like to pray for someone every day. "And you haven't prayed for anybody yet today?" he asked. Nope. "OK. Go ahead." So I prayed for him, that God would protect him and bless him.

"Thanks brother," he said, sticking out his hand to shake mine. I remember his hand was a little clammy and soft. But then it was over, and he was walking around the corner, headed east on Douglas.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 361: Last greeter

His name was John. He was short and stout, with a bushy beard, standing next to the doors at Walmart. This might be the last Walmart greeter I ever pray for. Maybe. (Who knows what I'll do tomorrow!)

There was nobody around as I was walking out of the store with some eggs and a brownie mix and an air filter -- not an unusual combination for me. It was one of those moments where there was a lull in the action at the front doors of Walmart. I took that for a sign and asked John whether I could pray for him.

He took one look at me and said, "Absolutely. You can pray for me any time." So I asked to pray for him right then and there, and he agreed. It was a short prayer. He thanked me, and I left.

I can't believe there's only four days left.

Day 360: A tip and a prayer

I’d been there before, sitting on a shuttle bus, waiting to get dropped off at the airport. The driver was a woman who wanted to know directly what airline I was flying. And then she spoke seriously into her walkie-talkie.

When we got to our stop, I let the other passengers get off before I handed her a tip and then asked her my question. She adjusted around in her seat to face me better, and then her whole head shifted backward and she said, “Pray for me?” It was the confused question, not sure what I was after.

So I told her I wanted to say a prayer for her quickly. The bus lane wasn’t busy at the moment. She didn’t seem to care about that. She just said that I could pray for her. She even smiled a little. So I prayed. Then I thanked her, hopped off the bus and walked into the New Orleans airport.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day 359: Acme Oyster House

We went down to the French Quarter of New Orleans for dinner. There were people everywhere, and it got busier as it got later. Music poured out of the bars and restaurants along Bourbon Street. Employees at certain bars were out in the streets peddling attractions that no one needs to see.

I was really nervous going down there about finding someone to pray for. I wanted to find someone who might be open to hearing it, and the French Quarter to me seems to be such an inhospitable place for that. I'd been there the last time I was in New Orleans, and I even asked to pray for someone, but I didn't particularly enjoy being down there.

We went to Acme Oyster House, where a line of people extended out of the building. I was with two guys, one of whom is my brother-in-law, Tony. When we got to the front of the line, a security guard was sitting in front of the restaurant. He really was a New Orleans police officer, probably working an off-duty job. He was keeping a close eye on the place, which was very busy.

He quickly became my target, and I kept my eye on him while we waited. When we finally got inside, he was standing deeper in the restaurant, close to our table. So I just leaned in and asked him my question. He was a short, stout guy -- not fat, just very strong. It was loud in there, but he heard me just fine. I told him it was kind of an odd question, and he chuckled. But he didn't hesitate. He said I could pray for him right there on the spot, so I did, praying into his ear. He thanked me, and I headed for my seat.

Maybe 15 minutes later as he was walking through the restaurant, he put his hand on my shoulder and thanked me again. Tony, who was sitting across from me, gave me a funny look. "My project," I explained. He smiled. He knows all about it.