It always catches me by surprise … even though I should know by now. Whenever you reach out and delve into the place of God’s Spirit, good things are bound to follow.

But then, good things were already happening. I had just finished a really great day and a half in Lexington celebrating the true wonder of having a 2 year old grandson, and celebrating the 90th birthday of my mother-in-law, Phyllis, Amy’s mom. Yes, the time was short. And no, it is never easy to leave … but it sure was a good feeling in my bones when I pulled out to return home to Arthur.

But the most important joy of the day hadn’t happened yet. The trip from Lexington to Arthur begins by getting on Interstate 64 West to Louisville. It is a bit of a tricky entrance ramp from Paris Pike to I-64, so I am always a little extra careful to get in the correct lane. And I did!

As soon as I made the turn for the ramp, there was he was … Dex. He was sitting on the thin concrete median that divided the entrance ramp from the exit ramp. He was leaning on a thin metal post that held a sign helping drivers navigate this ramp correctly. I could only see his back because he was facing the exit ramp, not the entrance ramp. Though it was a pleasant day, he seemed to be bundled up in a coat and blanket, and he was sitting with a “military green” large duffle bag — the same kind of bag that so many homeless veterans carry with them.

I knew immediately what to do. I pulled over as far as I could to be close to him, and I rolled down my window and explained to him that I had something for him. I reached behind my driver’s seat to grab the Blessing Bag I always carry in my car … but I grabbed air instead. The bag was somewhere back there out of my reach and my sight. In the meantime, the homeless vert is standing at my window and cars are beginning to back up on the entrance ramp.

It was at the very moment that I first looked up to see the face of this man. Only … he was more like a boy. Baby-faced. Nice head of hair. No sign of whiskers. This was no older homeless vet from Viet Nam or Korea. This was a homeless vet from Iraq. So young. So innocent. Somebody’s young son. Someone’s grandson.

Since I could not reach the Blessing Bag, and cars were all around us, I did what I normally do not do. I reached for my wallet in the console. I pulled out a wad of cash and handed it to him, telling him this is all I’ve got. He looked at me and took the cash and with a bright-eyed baby face of joy he said, “This will be really good since there is a storm coming up.” Now, the weather at this time was lovely. High blue sky. Intermittent sun and clouds. No sign of a storm, or even rain, in the forecast. But my friend knew the harsh realities of life. He was living those harsh realities. And he knew that another storm was just around the corner.

I was touched by his pleasantness and gratefulness, and his innocence. I knew I had to get that bag for him. So right there, on the entrance ramp, I put my flashers on and got out to look for that bag somewhere in the wilderness land of the back of my car. As I got out, I did what I was trained to do. “My name is Bob,” I said. “I’m Dex,” he replied. I found the bag and opened it just to be sure it was a blessing bag and not a dirty socks bag. He looked into it and his face spread out in wonder … like Christmas morning. He had never seen anything like this. And I had never seen anyone like him.

I wonder how a young vet like Dex has the floor drop completely out of his life? How does this kid end up here, that day, sitting by the highway, talking with me? I wish I had more time to get to know Dex, but the cars were coming more quickly and it was time for me to go. Dex stayed. Took his seat. And waited there all day for folks to offer some help to him.

I am glad I stopped. I am glad he was there for me. I am glad I was there for him. I’m not sure which of us was more blessed by that chance encounter … but I smiled the whole way home. And today I decided to share his story with you. Five minutes of our lives together. That is all we will ever have … me and Dex.

We’re all just seed throwers in this crazy mixed-up world of ours, where our vets struggle with suicide (an average of 20 vets a day commit suicide) and homelessness. And find themselves on the entrance ramps of our country’s highways. Throwing their seeds of desperation and depression at anyone willing to stop and help. Funny thing about those seeds they throw – they land on me, and others, as seeds of the gospel. Seeds of inspiration and hope. Seeds of love and caring for each other. And yes, seeds of Jesus.

I saw Jesus yesterday. His name was Dex. He blessed me and then sent me on my way. He stayed there. He had others to bless.

Let’s Journey to the Cross Together … Pastor Bob <><