You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Andy The Lyft Driver
It was the end of a great weekend with my nephew Kassidy at the NBA Summer League event in Las Vegas. The day I left I hit the button on my Lyft app for a ride to the airport and it said my driver would be there in three minutes, and that his name is Andy. That gave me just enough time to throw my laptop in my backpack, grab my other carry-on, and walk out the front door.
In front of the house a young Hispanic man got out of his car and opened his trunk for my bag. He was wearing a ball cap that said “Jesus” on the front, and a T-shirt that also said “Jesus” on the front. I wasn’t sure what to think, because “Jesus” (pronounced: “hay-soose” in Spanish) is a common name among Hispanic people. So I wasn’t sure if he just had a friend named Jesus, or if he was someone who was so completely abandoned to Jesus that he liked to wear clothes bearing his name.
After five or so minutes of driving I still hadn’t asked him about it. There was a bit of a language barrier as it was obvious that English is Andy’s second language, and that was part of what was holding me back. But finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I asked him.
I leaned forward from the back seat and said, “Andy, why do you wear a hat and t-shirt that says Jesus?”
“I’m a Christian,” Andy said. “About a year ago Jesus changed my life. He changed everything.”
He went on to tell me his story with the enthusiasm of someone telling me the story of how they won the lottery.
He’s from Cuba. His dad came to the United States seeking political asylum and Andy came with him. His mother and grandmother continue to live in Cuba. Andy said before he came to the U.S. he was living a destructive lifestyle. He partied way too much. And after he came to the United States, it only got worse. He abused alcohol and drugs to the point where he was living on the street with his girlfriend.
One day, out of desperation, he prayed to God for an apartment. During his prayer he also told God he believed in Jesus, but he needed more. He told God he wanted an apartment that was all white inside, and he said that if God provided him with the apartment he saw in his mind’s eye, he would know that it was from God, and he would believe. (Mark 9:23-24)
Soon after that prayer someone told him they found an apartment for him. He and his girlfriend went to look at it and when he opened the door, there it was, everything was white inside just as he had envisioned. He began to cry tears of joy. Andy, his dad, and his girlfriend took the apartment. Andy lit a candle and prayed a prayer of thanks to God for answering his prayer the way He did.
Then he and his girlfriend left to run an errand. They locked the door behind them. The apartment was empty. But when they came back there were crosses on all the windows drawn in candle wax. Andy believes this was another sign from God and the tears flowed again. And he said he felt the Holy Spirit filling him. He said he’s done every kind of drug and experienced every kind of high but he had never experienced anything like this. “It was the Holy Spirit,” he said.
Over the next few months he began to grow. He stopped using hard drugs and alcohol. Then he stopped using marijuana. Then he realized he couldn’t continue having sex with his girlfriend. She decided to leave him and go back to living on the street. Andy told his dad that he needed to go with her and protect her until he could find her a safe place to stay. His father objected. He said it was too dangerous. But Andy felt sure that Christ would protect him so he went back to living on the street for three days until his ex-girlfriend found a place.
Andy said he continues to grow. He showed me the Bible he keeps next to him in his car. He told me about the church he goes to.
I saw Jesus inside of Andy, alive in a way that was amazing and beautiful.
By now we were at the airport and it was time for me to leave. We embraced and I thanked him for sharing his story.
“We are brothers,” Andy said.
Here we are in our progression through the book of John, in John 15:16-17, and God shows me a living example of Jesus’ words from this passage of scripture.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you,” Jesus said. After listening to Andy share his story I can’t help but believe that Christ chose Andy. It’s as though God reached down and plucked Andy off the street. As I listened I had the sense that God didn’t want Andy on the street.
God wanted Andy for Himself.
“. . . and appointed that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you,” Jesus said. Andy asked for that all white apartment as a faith-building sign, in Jesus’ name, and God gave it to him. Andy’s been asking for the salvation of his mother and grandmother in Jesus’ name and he recently learned that his grandmother is taking his mother to church in Cuba.
“These things I command you, so that you will love one another,” Jesus said. The love of Jesus was palpable in Andy. It was the most amazing 20 minute Lyft ride I’ve ever experienced. The car was filled with the love of Christ as Andy told his story.
“We are brothers,” Andy said.
We are brothers indeed.
For Andy, and for every reader of this blog:
“I pray Jesus will cover you with his love. I pray you will always dwell in his shelter. I pray you will always find refuge under his wings. Truly His faithfulness is your shield.
“In Jesus’ name.”