The way back

Sometimes one little decision can change the course of our life, but more often than not it’s a series of choices that lead us to our current position. Yesterday, a group of us went out to talk to people around the Pismo Beach pier. When we got there, my friend Val immediately points and says, “I want to talk to THAT guy.” She was pointing to a large black man sitting near the end of the boardwalk. I was thinking, ‘This will last about five seconds while he chews our heads off for talking to him about God.’ I couldn’t have been more wrong. Nate was a big teddy bear of a guy who was terribly lonely.

At first, he brushed us off, saying he respected all religions, that his momma back in Ohio went to church, etc. Then Val dropped the bomb: “Out of all the people here, I felt like God was telling me to come talk to you.” “Really?” was the response. Val asked if there was anything crazy going on in his life, and man, it was like someone turned on the water faucet. He began to gush out his sorrows: he has a job, but right now he’s on ‘vacation’ because his blood pressure is up and he can’t work. Normally he sleeps in a hotel when he’s driving the truck for work, but since he’s off right now, he’s homeless, sleeping on the beach in Avila. He left his son back in Ohio and most of his family. He has a brother here, but doesn’t like to mooch. On he went. All these little decisions…all leading him to a bench in Pismo Beach, where he met two girls who combined weigh less than he does, telling him that God loves him, that he is worth something.

Eventually, he took a breath, and we invited him to come to dinner Wednesday night. Jeremy arrived at this point, and offered him a place to sleep. He refused, but there was something in him that wanted to say yes. So I hope I get to meet Nate again, to keep showing him that in spite of all the bad decisions he has made in his life, he’s worthy of God’s love.


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