Before I reached the corner, two teenage boys accepted tracts as they walked by me. When I arrived at the corner, I thanked God for answering one of my prayers so quickly. I then prayed for all the motorists and pedestrians who would see the cross--that the Lord would use something as foolish-looking to some as a man standing on the corner with a cross to somehow bring Himself glory.
About a half-hour into my time on the corner, I saw a man walking toward me, from north to south, on the opposite side of Constitution Avenue. Even from a distance, I had a sense we were going to have a conversation. He had a smile and a look of curiosity on his face, and his eyes were fixed on the cross.
The man crossed the street and stepped onto the sidewalk, at my corner. I handed him an Are You Ready? tract, which he accepted. Instead of walking away, as most people do, he began to pace in front of me.
The man (we'll call him Jim) pointed up at the cross and said, "This is really good, what you're doing."
"So, I guess this is the year."
"The year for what?" I asked.
"The Mayan calendar says..."
"No one knows the day or the time."
"No. And anyone who says they do is a liar."
I introduced myself and extended my hand. Jim returned the gesture.
"Jim, do you attend a church here locally?"
"No." He answered, with almost a sound of guilt in his voice.
"Do you believe God exists?"
"Oh definitely. Actually, I kinda follow Gaia."
"Mother Earth. Mother nature."
According to Wikipedia:
Gaianism is a very broad and inclusive philosophy and emerging spirituality with various religious expressions. The term describes a philosophy and ethical worldview which, though not itself religious, implies a transrational devotion to Planet Earth as a superorganism. It is rooted in an intuitive knowledge of humanity's intrinsic connection with our Home World, the Earth, also known as Gaia. Gaia was originally a primal Greek titan, symbolizing the Earth; All titans, gods, and monsters of Greek mythology originated from her and the primal Sky titan (whom were birthed from Chaos). Approaching our Home World as Gaia, a name derived from ancient Greek Polytheism, offers us a modern Earth-centered and mostly Pantheist spirituality based on a belief in the intrinsic personality of the Earth as a Living Organism that has passed through billions of years of Evolutionary expression. The modern emergence of this Earth-centered philosophy stems out of the accepted Gaia Theory which conveys the science behind the Earth as an ancient, living and self-regulating system within systems.Okay. Got that? There will be a test later.
"Do you believe in Heaven and Hell?" I asked.
"Yes, I do."
"Jim, what do you think a person has to do to go to Hell?"
"Murder." He quickly answered.
I took Jim through several of the commandments. He admitted to being a liar, a thief, a blasphemer, an adulterer-at-heart; and he was shocked to discover that God sees the hatred he had harbored toward others as murder.
Jim understood and was concerned that if he died in his current sinful, spiritually-dead state God would send him to Hell as his just punishment for his sins against Him. I asked Jim if he had any idea what God had done so that he might not have to spend eternity in Hell.
"He sent His Son to die on the cross."
"That's right. Do you know what that means?"
"I'm not sure."
"I appreciate your honesty."
As I do with so many others, I took Jim through the Courtroom Analogy. The more I shared with him, the more look of concern filled Jim's eyes. Even through his sunglasses I could tell he was thinking deeply about what he was hearing.
"Would that be good news to you?"
"What would you think of the person who did that (paid his fine) for you?"
"I would be forever grateful."
"Well, let's see if you mean that. Because what I just shared with you was a picture of what God actually did."
I proclaimed the gospel to Jim. His eyes never left mine and he seemed to hang on every word.
"What God commands of you, Jim, is that you repent (turn from your sin and turn to God) and, by faith alone, received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Does that make sense?"
"Yes, it does."
"Do you believe what I'm telling you is true?"
"I do believe."
I spent a few moments explaining to Jim that the worship of Gaia is idolatry, yet another sin for which he will be judged if God does not save him.
"Jim, is there any reason why you wouldn't, right now, repent and put your trust in Christ alone with your salvation? Is there any sin in your life that you love so much you're willing to spend eternity in Hell so you can continue to enjoy that sin in this life?"
"Wow. I need to give that some thought."
"Jim, the Bible says it's appointed once for a person to die, and then judgment. I may never see you again, but I care about you. I don't want you to perish in your sins. I want to see you in Heaven one day."
"I appreciate that. I think you will see me in Heaven."
"I hope so. I really do. Do you have a Bible?"
I gave Jim a gospel of John and encouraged him to read it.
"I'm going to go home and read it right away."
"Can I pray for you before you go?"
I put my hand on his shoulder and ask my Lord and Savior to save Jim--to bring him to repentance and faith and give to him the gift of eternal life.
I shared information about my church with Jim and invited him to join us on Sunday.
We shook hands, and Jim walked away.
I couldn't stop thanking and praising God.
I do not know if Jim came to faith in Christ as I talked to him. I knew him for all of twenty minutes, so I certainly did not know his heart or mind. But what I saw in his eyes, heard in his voice, and felt as we shook hands gave me every indication, fallible as it may have been, that I was watching the Lord save a soul before my eyes.
I believe, and I trust God this is true, the false god Gaia was defeated at the cross, on a street corner in Stevenson Ranch.