Saturday, December 12, 2015


I was living in Zephyrhills, land of the bottled water.  The year was 1998.  As the music minister of a local church, I enjoyed rocking the congregation into God's presence at each service.  I decided to run home for lunch one day, and hurriedly pulled out in front of a car I thought was coming much more slowly than it was.  The driver gave me a friendly honk, informing me of my error, as he tapped his brakes.

Stopping at the next traffic light, in my rear view mirror, I saw the kindly driver exiting his vehicle, and stomping toward me as I nervously sat in my vehicle with the window down.  There wasn't enough time to put the window up while still looking cool, so I waited for the inevitable.  He approached with profanity, followed by a hit to my mouth with his clinched fist.  He spun around and returned to his car with the same determination in which he had visited me.

As the light turned green, he revved his engine, and shot around me with his left hand proudly waving, "You're number one!" as he passed.  My options:  1.  Go home and explain to my wife why my lip was bleeding with the shame of having done nothing about it.  I blanched at the thought.  2.  Follow him to his next stop, and beat the snot out of him.  Hey, I'm a Whittington; I could take him!  3.  Pray.  Pray.  Pray.

I went with option three and felt the blood that was pounding in my face, the adrenaline coursing through my body, start steering me in an unexpected direction.  I did begin to follow him, which was easy since we both continued to go straight.  In a few moments he pulled into a fast food joint parking lot, and I followed right behind.  As I exited my car, he leapt from his asking me if I wanted, "some more?!"

I reached out my right hand, and sheepishly said, "No, sir.  I just wanted to apologize for cutting you off like that.  I didn't mean to do that."  His mouth opened, but no sound came out.  His eyes widened, starring at me in disbelief.  He glanced to the female passenger in his car, and back to me... and back to her, and to me.

The pitch of his voice seemed to climb an octave as he said, "Oh, man.  Oh, man...  See, my girlfriend is pregnant, and I was worried about her when I saw you pull out like that.  Oh, wow.  I'm sorry, man."  "Don't worry about it," I smiled.  "I just wanted to make sure everyone is ok."  After another moment of silence, he replied, "Yeah.  We're good."  Then he blurted, "Wow, I hit you, man!  I was...  I mean, I'm sorry man!"  Without warning, he hugged me.  Then he noticed my Christian t-shirt, and his voice returned to its higher register.  "Oh, man, you're a Christian!"  He looked at his girlfriend.  "He's a Christian!"  Another hug followed.

We spoke for a few moments, and I was able to verbally and nonverbally share the love of God with this guy.  I wasn't able to do this because I'm a super-holy saint.  Far from it, I have made many mistakes, committed many sins, in thought, word and deed, before that day and since.  All the commas in the previous sentence could be my most recent example of mistakes.  I was able to do that, only because I took a second to allow God to have his moment with me, and through me.

My mom jokes that she remembers only one time I really hit someone in anger - when I was a teenager.  I've hit my share of walls, kicked my share of doors.  Why haven't I been in any fights that I can remember?  Is my memory really that bad, for my age?!  I think it's because the Holy Spirit has protected my heart and emotions.  God wants me alive and well, for some reason!

I encourage you to consider your choices anytime you face an opportunity to get rowdy up in here.  Let God be one of those choices.  And, always, always, go with that one!

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