Jeremy waits tables in Nashville. He lives honest and works hard. He plays in a folk band and writes music. He respects God and his neighbors.
Sounds like a country song, doesn’t it? But before you guess at the moral of these lyrics, you need to know that Jeremy has a secret.
“I grew up Christian,” says Jeremy, who was reared in a church community in Idaho and even attended a private Christian school. He learned that God was perfect in love and goodness and asked the same from us. Ever willing, Jeremy nonetheless struggled with the pressure of performing well enough to please God. In fact, it exhausted him. There seemed to be more reward in developing his talents in music.
In time, Jeremy’s hard work and education in music led him to Nashville. It was a progressive step toward his dream of a career in song-writing. He settled in, got a job, and hooked up with fellow folk musicians to form a band. He also met a Christian friend who used phrases like “spiritual rest” and “abiding in God” and handed him a book by Dan Stone titled The Rest of the Gospel: When the Partial Gospel Has Worn You Out. That got Jeremy’s attention.
Was it possible to follow God and have joyful peace, too? Jeremy was naturally industrious, yet he had felt unsuccessful as a Christian. The idea of spiritual rest was worth examining, at least. So he did. He read Stone’s book, discussed it with friends, studied the Bible, and prayed. One day, he finally understood.
It was a Sunday, and Jeremy was listening to his pastor preach from Acts 8:26 – 40. This was the story of the apostle Philip who met an Ethiopian eunuch and introduced him to freedom in Jesus Christ. What struck Jeremy about this passage was the fact that Philip was not pursuing any destination when he began traveling toward Gaza. He simply accepted God’s invitation to go south and trusted that the purpose would be revealed. When God asked Philip to approach the man’s chariot, he did. When the man asked Philip for assistance in interpreting scripture, he provided. God didn’t prepare Philip ahead of time by rehearsing the conversation, yet Philip’s obedience led to the stranger’s salvation. “He was willing to listen and just be there, ready to respond,” says Jeremy. It was a whole new concept for living.
Jeremy was still pondering this concept one Saturday afternoon as he left work. He was looking forward to a night off with friends, but first he needed lunch. After a week of faithful dieting, it was time for a treat. He pointed the car toward the fast food restaurant on his mind when suddenly he felt the need to go to the grocery store. His car slowed in front of the store but passed by. Then it turned around and stopped in the parking lot.
A man in another car called to Jeremy. Jeremy saw two kids and a baby inside the vehicle. The man said he just needed bread and milk for his family. Jeremy pressed him to discern what he really needed. The stranger finally asked to walk with him into the store. Jeremy bought the family everything they needed, totally $90. The father cried gratefully and said, “You must have the Spirit inside you.” He explained that he’d felt like giving up, but his daughter had watched Jeremy’s car turn around on the street and knew he’d help them.
The next night, Jeremy was unexpectedly called into work. He thought it’d be a good opportunity to earn back the money he gave away. Although the other waiters struggled, generous customers gave him $180 in tips. It was double what he’d lost. God seemed to whisper, “This is how my kingdom works.”
Thus began the romantic, secret life of Jeremy J., following God without worrying about the destination. Since then, he has accrued many stories of spontaneous assistance. “Usually it’s little things, like ‘Pray for that stranger, show them kindness’,” explains Jeremy.
Once, he felt prompted to talk to a homeless woman sleeping on a park bench. Through conversation, he decided to get her some food and medicine, which she wrote down next to her name on a piece of paper for him. Curious, Jeremy looked her up on the Internet only to discover she was a missing person. When he returned with her items, he told her about her family and was able to connect her to them. Although she didn’t know what to think about God, Jeremy encouraged her that moments like this right here demonstrate that he cares for her.
Another time, Jeremy noticed a tractor trailer on the side of the road. Hours later, he passed by it again and had a thought that the driver might be thirsty, so he stopped. An old man was trying to lift heavy metal trays that had fallen inside the trailer. Jeremy offered to get him something to drink. The driver accepted eagerly, commenting that he felt like he was going to pass out. Jeremy soon returned with a beverage and stayed to help him with his task. The conversation turned to the subject of God. The driver called Jeremy “Angel-Man” for coming at the right moment to rescue him.
Angel-Man has other stories full of small magic and orchestration by the Lord. He says following God’s voice by the hour is so much easier than following a formula over and over until you achieve perfect results. Now that he’s had practice giving God bursts of attention, this year he is learning how to abide in Christ constantly. He plans to keep his ears tuned to God’s voice and just be in the moment, be ready to respond. It’s the secret to turning daily living into romantic adventure.
What do you think of this approach? How do you recognize God in your daily life?