As with any story, it is best to start at the beginning:
Here is Part 1 of My Hitchhiking Adventure With God (not to be missed!)
AT GRACE HOUSE IN ALEXANDRIA, LOUISIANA
The next morning at Grace House I woke up, ate a brownie, read my Bible, had some fellowship and prayer with a brother there, and set out on the road. The day was absolutely perfect. It was such a beautiful morning! Sunny skies, the perfect temperature for a walk, and that fresh morning smell in the air. It was indescribable!
As I was walking south on Highway 49, a girl named Charity picked me up. She told me that years ago her mother had picked up her father while he was hitchhiking. Ladies, don’t pick up hitchhikers! I can vouch that they are known to be unstable and shady characters. Charity, as her name implies, was really nice. She tried to buy me lunch but I couldn’t eat. (In fact I had eaten very little over the past two days and this continued throughout the entire trip. I do remember, however, drinking several Cokes along the way and ended up with stomach ulcers.)
Charity even trusted me in her truck with her keys while she stopped to run some errands and I trusted her with some of my lame poetry about God. Finally she dropped me off at a truck stop on the way to Baton Rouge.
Here is an example of one of the poems I left with Charity:
Flying into the Glory
Flying along in a spacious canopy of air
At four thousand feet not a worry to spare
All I could think of was God’s gracious presence
His warmth and intimacy and his great transcendence
As I gazed out the window I heard him say so clear,
“I love you my child, you to me are so dear”
“Thank you my father” was all I could say
As his joy filled my heart in such a marvelous way
“I love you sweet Jesus” was my hearts cry
You gave me so much when you suffered and died
A streak of light out the window then caught my eye
“The engines aflame, we’re all gonna die!”
The intercom blared, “stay calm, don’t panic.”
But hysteria mounted with all passengers frantic
“Jesus”, I prayed, “Your will be done”
“Welcome home”, he replied, “my beloved son”
A brilliant flash, billows of flame
For a moment I felt intense searing pain
Then instantly riding in a chariot of fire
It was awesome to gaze upon my true desire
Permeated with the most intense brilliant light
As the word of God echoed, “there shall be no more night”
Angels flew by my side with joyous glint in their eyes
Celebration for me? It was such a surprise
The death of his saints so precious in his sight
My moment had come, it was time to delight
Hovering over a great sea of glass
I strode up to his throne, finally at long last
I knelt down and bowed low, submissive to HIM
He stooped down in love and lifted my chin
He gazed into my eyes and then I realized
His love is so real, a truth most people despised
Forever will I, praise him and glorify
The most worthy, most holy, Jesus Christ
A poem by Daniel Lovett – August of 1996
Near the truck stop a man was stopped on the side of the freeway on ramp cleaning out his car. I just assumed that he had stopped for me, which wasn’t the case, but he was nice enough to give me a ride all the way to New Orleans after a quick stop by his home in Baton Rouge. He told me he had been debating about whether to go to New Orleans at a friends invitation anyway.
The drive along the elevated highway through the alligator and snake infested swampland was interesting to say the least. As we drove he told me about how New Orleans was below sea level and how they buried 90% of people above ground.
When we arrived in New Orleans I stopped to pick up a map for $2.95 so I could locate the YWAM house. When the cashier handed me back a nickel after I handed him 3 dollars, it reminded me of what the man said to me the night before about my faith being worth less than a nickel. How valuable is our faith to God? Priceless.
On the third day of hitchhiking I arrived at the YWAM base in New Orleans. While I was at the YWAM base in Lindale, Texas they had called ahead to the YWAM base in New Orleans so they could expect my arrival. It seemed that the Lord had planned for everything.
It was so surreal to finally be there in New Orleans. I met a man at the YWAM base who greeted me right away and prayed for me thanking God for sending me. He told me his story about how he had been a drunk. One day while intoxicated he tried to jump onto a moving train for the fun of it and slipped and fell. The train took off his arm. Now, though missing his left arm, he loves Jesus with all his heart. (I later learned that he was inspired by my journey and took a “Spirit-led” trip of his own to Seattle.)
I met another man who was a seasoned evangelist. I wish that at the time I had been more teachable and more mature. I would have listened more and tried to learn from his experience. He had a practice of handing out Gospels of John. This is a practice that I picked up and still continue to do in my ministry in the nursing homes.
I had also learned that Carman, a famous Christian singer, was putting on a concert and also that Benny Hinn was in town doing a healing crusade that same night I arrived. That first night I took a walk down along the levee along the Mississippi river and prayed. I walked down to a bar and stood outside it. An older man came out to me and said, “What do you see boy?” Without thinking I said, “I see Jesus Christ.” The man stumbled back when I said that – visibly shaken.
Another man came out of the bar and stood next to me. I learned that he was a Native American from the Pacific Northwest where I had grown up and we got to talking. I told him of my hitchhiking adventure and that I had come to share the good news of Jesus with people. I don’t remember how it came up but I remember telling him that lust was a shameful sin. He tried to justify it saying that if women were willing to do it then what’s the harm. He finally admitted to me that it was wrong and I was able to pray with him.
MARDI GRAS (FAT TUESDAY)
New Orleans is crazy wicked during Mardi Gras. I saw pimps with prostitutes parading down the street and all sorts of vulgarity on display. I mostly stayed on the street closest to the river. I couldn’t even go to Bourbon Street (the fourth street in from the river and where most of the activity was) because it was just so spiritually oppressive.
I spent most of the time just praying and talking with people about Jesus. I approached people and prayed with whoever I felt the Holy Spirit lead me to. I soon got separated from the two guys I was ministering with because I spent too much time talking with one older guy.
I once found myself standing next to this younger guy about my age who exposed himself to a group of girls on a balcony for some beads. As he was zipping up his pants he looked down and read a Christian tract lying face up on the ground. The cover read, “How will we escape the fires of Hell?” This guy said, “Well, I’m just glad that God is a forgiving God.” This guy was like me. We were the same. We are all the same. Every one of us is in need of a forgiving God. We are all very screwed if God isn’t forgiving.
One time on the ferry I approached a young man to share Christ with him and he said to me, “Get the f*#! away from me or I’ll kill you.” I walked away. On that same ferry there was a ministry evangelism team doing a skit/song & dance and sharing about Jesus.
I wasn’t afraid because I had the philosophy that what you project into the world has a way of coming back to you. People respond to love and kindness. I wasn’t going around preaching a “turn or burn” message but simply sharing God’s love and praying with people. Scripture says that while we were at our worst Christ died for us and where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. It’s called “good news” for a reason. It’s good news for even the worst of us sinners.
My favorite experience happened on the day after Mardi Gras. For the first time in my life I set foot in a Catholic Church. I went with Charamie, a girl I had met there at YWAM, because she invited me. I was struck by how similar the message was compared with all the various other Christian churches I grew up in. I was also impressed that I didn’t feel judged even though I looked just like any other guy who had partied hard the night before. I had a hair wrap with the colors of Mardi Gras in my hair – Purple, Gold, and Green.
I was told by one of my new friends the following Christian representation of the colors: The purple represented the royalty of Jesus – the gold, the splendor and glory of his kingdom – and the green the new life he brings. The priest put the wafer on my tongue, “the body of Christ” he said and marked my forehead with the ashes in the form of a cross.
Charamie and I then spent the day with a homeless street musician named David who played the harmonica. He had a box full of harmonicas and would play the most amazing tunes. He would say to a passerby, “Spare change for a white piece of trash?” The joke was on them, he would say, because he was just exposing what they were thinking anyway. He showed us around and introduced us as locals. We had lunch together on Bourban Street and I had my first Po-Boy shrimp hoagie sandwich and for no apparent reason got a bloody nose in the restaurant. I had Charamie carry my money for me. I told her that if people asked me for my money I would just give it all away.
That reminds me of the previous day when I had approached a man to share Jesus with him and he thought I was asking for some money. He had that look of feeling sorry for me and I could also tell he didn’t want to give me money but dug in his pockets for some change. Before I knew what was happening he was handing me some change and I didn’t know what to do except thank him. A woman nearby said, “You don’t need that! Give it back to him!” So I did. I did wonder if God was intervening at that moment perhaps saying through the incident, “No child of mine will ever have to beg on the street.”
The following day I was walking down Bourbon Street again with Charamie. As I walked past a restaurant I felt inclined to go in and pray for a woman. I walked in and went to the back where she was. I talked with her and when she told me that she was blind I wasn’t sure what to do. Did God want to heal her? I had no idea. I tried to pray for her but she became hostile, told us not to touch her and yelled at me to go away. The staff at the restaurant was giving me a bewildered and shocked look and so I left not knowing what in the world had just happened. What was that all about?
What does it mean to be led by the Spirit? Are we just ordered around blindly and compelled to do what He says? What if we don’t obey? Does he leave you like he did king Saul and move on to someone who will listen? Once, after I had got home, I was sitting on the couch praying and I heard the Lord say, “Stand up.” So I stood up. He said, “Go to the door.” So I went to the door. “Go back to the couch.” So I did. “Sit down.” So I sat back down. And then He asked me, “Is this what you want?”
I knew in that moment that a life of faith was far more than just blind obedience to some supernatural guiding voice. God has in mind for us something far more intimate. He wants a partnership. He wants a friendship. It would take many more years for me to learn this lesson… and I’m still learning.
What thoughts do you have in regards to the relationship God would want to have with you? What difficulties do we face in realizing this relationship? What can we do to foster it? Leave a comment!