The Hitchhiker's Guide to Picking Up Hitchhikers

Posted by Kyle on March 9, 2011

I strive as hard as I can to live an interesting life - not because I want to compare to anyone else and be better, but simply because I really fear getting bored with it.

Implicit in that goal is doing things most people wouldn't. To that end, I picked up a hitchhiker while my wife, my pastor, and I were in Thoreau, NM planning for this year's mission trip.

I'm not going to lie - when we picked this guy up, I absolutely intended to share the Gospel with him and thereby impart upon him the most valuable thing I could, but as it often works out, I really received something huge out of the situation.

I was driving, and the look on Megan's face was priceless when I pulled over to pick up the fella whose thumb was sticking up in the common "please help me out because I'm really tired of walking" sign that I find really hard to just pass by. Her look was somewhere between "I know you're doing a nice thing, so I can't be mad at you even though I want to," and "Dear Lord, this is my last hour on Earth."

He (I'll call him Chuck) jumped in the car and it was immediately evident that he was WAY drunk. I knew instantly that this would not be a simple presentation of the Gospel on a short drive.

For one, Chuck didn't really know where he was or where he wanted to go. He was a guy at the end of his rope, and the knot was slipping, and I don't think his confusion came from the alcohol - though it didn't help matters much.

At the very least, we figured Chuck didn't need to be out on the streets, much less hitchhiking on the Interstate, while he was innebriated, so we convinced him to come have dinner with us.

We learned he had lost his family in a divorce - wife, kids, dog, house...the real makings of a country song - and had lived with several other women since, all of which left him. He said he was done with women, done with family, etc., etc., and just wanted a job. The only thing in the world this guy wanted was a job.

Not too long ago, I read Counterfeit Gods by Timoth Keller (one of my favorite Bible teachers, by the way. Click the link for the book on Amazon).

In it, Keller argues that if we define ourselves and/or our ultimate value by absolutely anything other than the love and grace of God and Christ's atonement on the cross, we will fall apart, even if that other thing is a good thing.

Chuck had placed his ultimate value in family, then in sex, then in a job. While family is good, and sex is good, and having a job and being productive and creative is good, they all come from the one who gives them their, and our, value. Chuck was the perfect example of this.

We fed Chuck some dinner, talked with him for a while, and, after he had sobered up a bit, we discovered his dad lived nearby and that he wanted to go stay there for the night. It's been just over a week and I'm still thinking about him. I think I'll try to track him down when we go out there this summer.

Please be sure to leave a comment, and keep Chuck in your prayers.

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