Last Wednesday, several YWAM leaders invited me to dinner while I was teaching at their base outside of Denver, CO. Our waiter (Aaron) stood out to me as nervous, odd, starving artist, and probably gay. It sounds horrible admitting how quickly I was able to stereotype, even judge, someone I’d barely met.
At one point during a spicy, remarkably fantastic Buffalo-sausage, green-chili ravioli dish, one of the YWAM leaders asked which spiritual gift I wrestled with most. Genius question. All of them? The gift of prophecy is probably where I struggle most but I want to keep growing in all nine. “For example,” I said, “I’ve been asking Jesus for His thoughts toward our waiter, and I’m coming up blank. I’ve got nothing.”
Moments before we paid our bill I had the faint, but clear picture, of the words “audio” and “technica” along with a turn-table spinning vintage vinyl. I shared the thought with my table and told them this would be a great example of what awkward risk-taking looks like. The only thing I considered was that maybe Aaron was thinking about opening a record store or doing some kind of technical audio work.
When Aaron again came by to check on us I explained how we were all Christians learning to hear God’s voice for others. I asked if he would give me his permission to share my thoughts. He agreed. I shared the words and the picture of the record player and spinning records. As soon as I began suggesting how the picture/words might connect to him, Aaron abruptly interrupted me by saying, “I can stop you right there.” This is when I winked at the group around me knowing full well what I was about to hear. Never could I have anticipated what Aaron spoke next:
“My mother just died. The last thing I did with her before she passed was play old records on a turntable. Oh my goodness. I don’t know what to say or do right now.”
Aaron—showing obvious anxious, edgy energy—turned suddenly around and walked out of the room. In the same instant, compassion moved us to a deep, collective awe. We were all wiping back tears. I went from thinking I was crazy to being as shocked as anyone that Jesus had just spoken to Aaron where he was hurting most.
On his return, he told us he wasn’t a Christian but that he was genuinely shocked and had begun attending church where his boyfriend sings in the choir. Aaron kindly agreed as we asked permission to pray over him. We held hands, praying over a heart obviously distraught, inviting Jesus to continue restoring. We hugged and thanked Aaron for being so open with us.
Only Jesus looks past sin, confusion, and earthly stereotypes to meet someone at the intersection where need and healing converge. I walked out repenting and apologizing for the way I had perceived our server and thanked God for moving through even a fool like me.