The other day I finally got rid of a monkey that has been on my back for about 11 years. I spoke to someone on a train. Now I can tell that morsel of information has you literally panting in anticipation for the rest of that story but first I must set the scene. I must tell you about the monkey. It is a shameful tale that has caused me no amount of anguish, but now I am redeemed.
11 years ago I was sat on a train, for reasons that escape me I had a load of gospel tracts with me. Across the aisle a man in a suit sat tapping away on a laptop. As I looked at him I felt God say to me, as clear as I have heard Him say anything, ‘Grab one of those gospels, take it out of your bag, slam it down on the table by the man and say get a life!’
Now obviously I did what any rational 19 year old going for it Christian bloke would do. I totally ignored Him. And God did what any rational omniscient being would do. He kept banging on about it. Literally repeating the same thing. Over and over again. Ironically our roles as Father and annoying teenager seemed momentarily switched. Fed up with God for repeating the same sentence over and over I reluctantly agreed, but with a few slight alterations. The main one being that I would indeed do what God had asked but I would do it at my stop, which would enable me to slam the gospel on his table, shout ‘get a life’ and leave the train! The plan crumbled when at my stop the man quickly packed his bag and left, leaving me to wonder what would happen to him.
Fast forward to yesterday, I was making a trip from Scarborough to Cardiff which is a 6 hour journey and I had prayed that I would have an encouragement on the journey. As I waited on the platform I saw a red haired fella reading what appeared to be a Bible. No I thought – too obvious, I ignored him. But my mind was flashing back to 11 years ago and the feelings of shame induced from that event. I boarded the train, dug out my ticket and found my seat number, I turned to said seat and there he flipping was. Sat in my seat. At this moment my mind was yet to link the prayer I had said earlier that day and the fact that the Bible reading passager had selected my seat out of all of them in a relitively empty train. I should, at this stage, point out that the little tickets that inform you that a seat is reserved had not be placed out, so this fella didn’t know he was sat in my seat! So I sat across the aisle in the same position I had been all those years ago. Then God said to me ‘How obvious do you want it? He’s reading a Bible, he’s sat in your seat! What more do you want? A neon sign?’ So reluctantly I made eye contact, and asked why he was reading the Bible.
His answer? He’s a youth pastor in a town near Scarborough. The conversation which followed did more than encourage me, it redeemed me. God is a God of multiple chances, He is a God of restoration. After Peter denied Jesus three times, he was later given a chance to redeem it, and while it might not be in the same league, I’d like to think that yesterday, in someway, Jesus was reinstating me, even after 11 years.