I wrote this back in November of 2006. It is one of my better stories and since no one was reading back then (unlike now?) I thought I would repost it. It makes the point- too often lost- that we must focus on Christ and when we do everything else falls into place.
Vacation is a good thing. I like to get away to a beach and read lots of books when I can. It usually happens every few years or so. Way out east is a far away country that I will call Dale. It is a peninsula on the sea and now my daughters go to school there. One year we went there and had a great vacation. We stayed in the Capitol City for a few days, then went up to the mountains, then out to an island for a week. I had been doing the good dad thing up to that point and one day out on the island I decided that it was time to really get by myself and seek God. I needed to hear from Him about many important things that were happening and for that I figured I needed some dedicated alone time.
The island had a large hill in the middle of it all covered in jungle. I grabbed my camera and my Bible and headed out the gate of the hotel, turned up the road toward the village and began to look for a path up the hill and into the jungle. I had not gone even two hundred yards when up came old Tom. He approached me from the boat docks and asked me where I was going. I said I was heading up the hill. He introduced himself to me and began walking with me. He ran a tourist boat there on the island and was just getting off work. I told him that I really just wanted to go up and see if I could get a picture of a monkey or two. I didn’t need any help. No, no really, I will be fine on my own. Please, just…. I …. you don’t have to…. But I was not willing to be out and out rude to the guy. I really did not want to be with him. I was really despairing of wasting the only time I was going to get away by myself.
As we went through the villlage he said, ‘Wait right here, I need to get my walking shoes.’ He turned into a Budhist Temple while I stood wondering two things, how am I going to ditch this guy, and does he really live in this Temple?
He came out with his shoes on and we started up the road. I don’t know why he wanted to come with me. I told him I didn’t have any money but he said he didn ‘t need any. He was off work and was happy to wander around with a tourist. He said he knew a great place to see monkeys. I said, ‘So, you live in that …. temple?’ ‘Yes’, he said, ‘Isn’t it sad? All those poor hopeless people.’ I wondered about that. ‘So, you don’t believe um, your not a Budhist?’ He said that no, he was not a Budhist but that he rented a room in the back from an old woman who owned the temple. ‘So, what do you believe?’ ‘I am a Christian’, he said. I was floored. I am on an unreached island in a Muslim country. How is he a Christian? I asked him his story. He told me that he was working on one of the big ships that run the shipping lanes in that part of the world and a guy shared the truth with him. He had a Bible but after leaving that ship had had almost no contact with other believers. As far as he knew he was the only believer on the island and he was lonely.
He shared Psalm 23 with me. From memory. I talked with him all afternoon. We found a little cove with lots and lots of monkeys and I fed them bananas as we continued to talk about the King. We prayed together and then as the sun set we came back over the hill to the village. I said good bye and he gave me a ball cap. It was red and he told me, ‘Every time you see this cap or put it on your head you pray for old Tom.’ I still do.
As I walked up that final two hundred yards back to the hotel by myself the King and I talked. I said, ‘Hey, I thought I was going to get some time with you to hear from you today?’ He said, 'So you did. Whenever you seek me you will find me. When you find me you will find that I am always with hurting people who need my touch.'
This answered pretty much all my questions. You want to ‘find God’? Go out and serve someone who needs you. He’s there. This then is my strategy, my methodology, my philosophy of ministry all rolled up into one story.Taste and see.