Recently I was reflecting on my early days as a legal intern. The firm I worked for took on a significant amount of divorce work, and occasionally they assigned me to serve legal process in a divorce action. Because I had an unassuming “look,” my firm presumed that I could easily bypass any hurdles in order to access an office, get by a receptionist and ultimately, to hand official papers to an unsuspecting individual. Most often, their strategy was successful. I was desperate for the job, as I was paying my way through law school, so I continued to accept the assignments. It was a horrible job, and I was often terrified that a husband would take his anger out on me, the messenger! Fortunately, that never happened, but I did experience other fearful incidents.
One particular day I was riding the New York City subway, carrying confidential papers covering a high profile divorce matter. The subway stopped and on staggered a man wielding a knife. Blood was dripping down his arm. Before anyone could react, the subway resumed, and I saw him slowly make his way toward me. At the time, I was not a follower of Christ, and never thought to pray, but I did calculate my actions—which were, of course, the same as everyone else on the car with me. The subway stopped again, and just before the man reached me and the others, we all crowded and pushed our way out of the car, leaving the bleeding man behind. Although visibly shaken, I sighed in relief, and determined to wait for the next subway, only to then realize I had dropped my briefcase in the bustle on the car with the bleeding man. The divorce papers had been in my bag. Every “worst case scenario” crossed my mind—they would be found by someone with deceptive motives who would blackmail me, or the finder would alert the husband who then would dodge service indefinitely, or they would never be found, but I would be fired! It was the end of the work day, and since that was my last assignment I proceeded home to worry about my fate.
In fact, none of those scenarios took place. Instead, I arrived home to a message on my answering machine (this was the 80’s after all!), from a gentleman explaining that he had found my briefcase and would deliver it to my office in the morning. The next day I arrived early to find it at the receptionist’s desk, just as he had promised. In the bag was a note and a gift. The note referenced the unfortunate, and terrifying event on the subway, but then spoke of a hope that we can have—an eternal hope, if we follow and believe in Christ. His gift was a New Testament. I was 23, and this stranger was the first individual to ever share the Gospel with me.
Did I sit down and read the Book? Did I accept Jesus at that time? Did I confess that I was a sinner in need of a Savior, and change my life? No. In fact, it would be ten years before that would happen, and of course that man will never know this side of heaven that one day I would choose to follow. But I often reflect on the incident. And when I did finally “hear” the Gospel, I thanked God for this one man’s kindness, and obedience to do what he could to spread God’s Word. Recalling this incident has reminded me that God had been pursuing me for a long time, and this man was one of His instruments for that purpose. God loved me that much to search for me as a Shepherd would look for a lost sheep. His pursuit included following me on the NYC subway!
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
That man’s faithfulness has also motivated me to look for opportunities to be the seed of hope for another, not only to share Christ’s love but to be a reminder to others that God is present even in a dark and evil place. Am I being as obedient as my stranger was?
Perhaps this story will also remind you that we can be an instrument of God to pursue others. And for those who might be reading this, and do not know Jesus in a personal way as your Lord and Savior, maybe you might consider the simple thought that God loves you as well. Might He be pursuing you?
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” 2 Peter 3:9.