“Conversion in Helena"
I believe that anyone that truly knows the Lord can remember that one special moment when they heard Him speak to the deepest part of their heart for the first time; that moment when they knew without a doubt that they were in His will and didn’t need to be anywhere else. At that moment something inside takes a giant leap and you’re never the same again.
That moment happened for me a day or two before my 26th Birthday. I was hitching through Helena, Mt. in the late afternoon. It seemed to be rush hour; a lot of traffic but none were stopping. Finally a young man pulled over and picked me up.
“ Where are you headed?” he asked.
“I’m on my way back to Illinois,” I said. “I was hoping to get some long miles under my belt, but I’ve been caught in this traffic.”
“I live here in Helena,” he added. “I’m just getting off work and not going very far but I can take you to the exit on the other side of town. It’ll get you past most of this traffic and you should have pretty clear sailing after that.”
As we talked I discovered that he was raised a Mormon but had not been practicing his religion for some time. I sensed heaviness in his spirit and learned that it stemmed from a poor relationship to his father. Although I had been experiencing a strong guiding hand in my own life and knew that God was at the center of it, I still had so many inner questions myself. I felt so incapable of giving him any solace. As the despair in his voice became more apparent I prayed:
“Dear Jesus, I’ve been searching for you in my travels for three years now and although I’ve experienced your guidance in many ways I still don’t feel like I really know you. I’ve met so many groups that say that they know you but I didn’t feel you in their presence. In some I even felt an evil. I don’t want what they have. I know that you are The Way but I just don’t know how. This young man is hurting even more than I am. If you are really there please give me something to give him. I’m not asking this for myself but for him. If you don’t, then I’m going to give up this searching and go back to Carbondale and draw pretty pictures; and I won’t search for you anymore.”
Just then I heard a clear voice speak to my heart: “Tell him about your Father in heaven.” [Earlier in my trip, because of all the ‘Jesus groups’ I came in contact with where I didn’t feel comfortable, I had started praying directly to God the Father. It felt less confusing.] At that moment I felt a strong presence; the presence of God that I had been searching for. I knew it was the Lord but I responded, “You mean your Father in Heaven.” Again that strong, clear voice spoke directly to my heart. “No, I taught you a prayer,” and the Lord’s Prayer ran through my mind. I heard the words, “Our Father….” as well as the rest of the prayer, as if hearing it for the first time. Once again I responded to the inner voice saying, “OK, but I don’t know how to work this into the conversation. You’ll have to do it.”
In an instant, as if being beamed back, I found myself back in conversation with the young man. He was speaking of how God was not there for him; a negative view, I’m sure colored by the absence of his own earthly father in his life.
“But that’s not how God is,” I found myself saying. “He’s a loving Father.” I went on to tell this young man of a loving Father that he had in heaven that he could know if he only asked.
We road together for quite some time exchanging views. I think we both sensed that something changed in our lives that day. We had driven many miles past the edge of town and onto the highway so that we could talk longer. I could see lights going on in his eyes as we spoke. I could feel lights going on in my own mind as I remembered bits of scripture that I had heard many times in church while growing up; but now I was hearing them anew as for the first time.
We had driven seventy miles past the edge of town and I felt the Spirit telling me that we had shared all that we were suppose to. I urged the young man to leave me off and start heading back.
“But we’re in the middle of nowhere,” he said, “There’s nothing out here.”
I, who at this time was feeling a new found strength of spirit, responded, “What have we been talking about all this time? I’ll be fine.”
So he left me off. As I stood there on the side of the highway in the evening stillness watching his taillights disappear from view I thought to myself, “Me and my big mouth, this really IS the middle of nowhere.” But, I decided to trust and in a short while I had another ride and I was on my way again.
I knew something different happened that day. I was no longer searching, but rather, sharing from ride to ride. I felt the Spirit of God with me and could see and feel His leadings. I also felt a newfound freedom. I felt smaller somehow, less significant, a small cog in God’s big plan, but I was being used by the creator of the Universe and that’s all that mattered. I became like a telephone wire between souls and my only job was to share my faith. I even found myself waiting less between rides and each ride seemed to be more significant. I started to see that there were only three different kinds of rides I would get: One, were those who were hurting and needed what I could offer. The second were those who had something to share and became my teachers. The third kind, were those used by God to position me to meet one of the other two kinds; and it was always obvious when the ride was this third kind.
All in all, I found myself for the first time in my life truly, “On The Road Home”