Jesus at the Bar

After another long hot day on the bike, temps around 98 with no cloud coverage, when we hit the hotel I just wanted a shower. The road dirt and sunscreen mixed with miles and miles of sweat might have earned me real biker status but I was ready to shed the chaps and begin our evening of exploration. I am finding that such long periods of forced solitude bring a richness to each stop, conversations are a bit deeper, more meaningful. We share our observations from the last 100 miles, we tell stories. Cell phones mostly stay idle except to check in with those following us at home. I was ready for our evening talks, wondering where those would take us as, knowing my mind would be challenged, my soul inspired. It was sharing time.

Because I cleaned up first, I left the room in search of the hotel bar, a refreshing glass of wine. There I met a young man willing to share his story, open to hearing some Jesus. He poured my wine, the bar was empty, I stepped out of my comfort zone, I needed to hear voices. I asked him about himself. What ensured was God, in the timing, in the nudges, in the light flowing into that little bar. His name is Bryce, he wants to be an actor. He feels a calling but hears all the reasons why it won’t work. He pours drinks for wealthy business people who tell him to finish his education, to find stable employment. But something inside is screaming to follow his art. I said ,”Do it.”  He was surprised. I found myself quoting Steve Wiens from his book “Beginnings.” Bryce looked at me, stopped cleaning glasses, said he needed to hear that. We dug deeper. I worried about telling him my friend Steve is a pastor, I am not one for evangelizing. Maybe it was the elevation, maybe the dehydration, I took the leap. Sharing how this book, this man’s writing had opened up a world of choices for many friends, for me, I told him about Steve’s church. He didn’t walk away. Tony Compolo and Red Letter Christianity worked into my story, opening up a place of grace for this young man who walked a way from church several years ago, couldn’t find his way back. Church that excludes, that judges, that seems to hate instead of love. He was seeking Jesus, we found Him at the bar.

Other patrons made their way to our bar, Bryce got back to work. While he was pouring and listening to more stories, I asked for his address. He didn’t hesitate, found a scrap of paper to share his life with a stranger. I rejoined my friends, we laughed amidst an hour of camaraderie on the hotel porch. As we made our exit for dinner, Bryce put down his towel, stopped washing dishes and came to our side of the dividing bar. He gave me a hug, again thanked me. After dinner, back in our room, I  ordered Steve’s book from Amazon.  It is on the way, full of new beginnings and wise words for this young man. Whether he ever shows up on the big screen in our theaters, he is already a star to God. I am excited for his new beginning, a new relationship with a God who is pursuing him. This God who washed me of my road dirt and sent me to the bar, eager to talk and listen. A beginning for me as well.

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