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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Surprise Surprise Surprise

Pocket Full of Quarters Journey 2015
Surprise Surprise Surprise

Written In Phoenix, Arizona
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

Remember Gomer Pyle's famous line, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise?" That was how I felt after paying for my hair color and cut.

The entire 2 hours had been uncomfortable, starting with me telling my stylist why I was in town. Her jaw clenched as she explained her eclectic religious heritage that included family members making her attend LDS, Catholic, non-denominational, and Lutheran services with a little Judaism sprinkled in. She had no use for any of it and appeared to have no interest in heaven, God, or Jesus. She considered her entire family either crazy or at the very least dysfunctional so the various organized religions they practiced held no attraction for her. I thought she was someone who had moved on from her family issues and had built a stable life for herself and her 12 year old son that didn't include religion or God.

I managed to speak 4 simple Gospel scriptures and made a few unsuccessful attempts to reach her emotionally. I was looking for what I call the Holy Spirit Hook but her face remained stoic and her language clipped and professional. I finally decided to let her off the hook and changed the subject to mundane things like the weather and raising children.

When she finished, I let her know that I loved my color and style and walked to the front to pay. I generously tipped her and even her goodbye was professional and a little distant.

I got to the door, opened it, and realized that while I had over the course of the 2 hours managed to give the entire Gospel, I had not asked if she wanted to meet Jesus. Up until that point, I had respected her boundaries and hadn't pushed and I didn't want to ruin it by annoying her. I was sure she wasn't interested in calling on Jesus but my rule is that if I give the Gospel, I always invite people to meet Jesus. I hesitated but felt the firm insistence of the Holy Spirit to go back. I walked back to her station.

"I hate to bother you again," I said timidly as I interrupted her sweeping up my hair. "I would never want to push you but I just realized that I told you about Jesus but didn't invite you to meet him. My personal opinion is that it is rude to tell someone about the greatest party there ever was and not invite them to it. Would you allow me the privilege of leading you in a prayer to invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior?"

"Let's go outside!" she said firmly as she grabbed my arm and pulled me to the door. I wondered if she was furious.

When we got outside, she went to crying and said, "I can't believe you came here today. You have no idea what is going on in my life. I am in a custody battle for my son and yesterday, I got a DUI. I'm worried about how that will affect keeping my son. I don't know what is going to happen. Will I go to jail? Will I lose my license and my son? How will I work to support my son if I can't even drive? I came to work today feeling like the worst person ever and here you are talking to me about forgiveness of sin. I can't believe it."

I was as surprised as I've ever been giving the Gospel. Nothing about her appearance or demeanor indicated any of that. She just seemed like someone who wasn't interested in what she called "religion." I took both of her hands and looked her in the eyes.

"God sent me to you today to tell you that He loves you and is offering you forgiveness and a fresh start. This salon was a long way from where I was and when my GPS suggested it, I knew there had to be others closer but decided to just drive here. God picked this salon for me because of you. May I please lead you in a prayer calling on the name of Jesus?"

She agreed and prayed, clearly repeating the words I suggested. When we got to the part where she confessed that she was a sinner and asked for forgiveness, she wept.

"You're forgiven now," I told her when we finished. "God has forgotten your past and washed you white as snow. He won't even remember your past. You will still have to face the courts, the DUI, and the custody battle but you will do it with the strength of Jesus behind you. You mentioned earlier that your weight was an issue and just now you mentioned drinking. Are food and alcohol problems for you?"

"They are," she admitted. "It seems like I'm addicted to everything. I don't know how to stop."

"You just did," I said. "It sounds like food and alcohol are what the Bible calls strongholds. May I pray for you and ask God to break your strongholds? I also want to pray for your various legal issues."

"Please," she whispered. I took her hands and felt them tremble as I offered up a commanding and pleading prayer to God on her behalf.

When I finished, I suggested both Alcoholics and Overeaters Anonymous. She agreed to go to both. We talked about how to pick out a church and since I used to live in Phoenix, I was able to offer a couple of suggestions. I got her contact information and we hugged for about the 5th time.

"I can't believe it," she whispered. "I came here today feeling hopeless and now I have so much hope." I reminded her again about church and getting support for her strongholds.

I have no words to explain how surprised I was. I was surprised that the words of the Gospel had touched her. It seemed like they were falling on deaf or emotionless ears. I was surprised that after spending 2 hours with her, I had no idea of the burdens she carried. I had almost left without inviting her to meet Jesus and was certainly surprised at the depth of her longing for the peace, strength, and forgiveness Jesus offered. If ever anyone was convicted of her sin and ready to meet Jesus, it was her, and I didn't even know it. I left thanking God for the power in the Gospel, the undeniable value and influence of His Spirit, and the people who taught me the discipline of sticking to my evangelism training even when I think it isn't going to be successful.

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