This is the first of two parts of how one young lost hippie (Me) came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. In a nutshell you could summarize the events as how my plans became God’s. Though almost 46 years have passed and not all of them have been a “And He lived happily ever after” thing – but I can truthfully say that it has been a “He was changed for ever after” life that God has given me. Enough of introduction. I pray you will be blessed.
Part One – How I found Easter
In 1971 I was just another 19 year old hippie trying to figure life out. That night I found myself along a lonely stretch of desert on the highway between LA and Phoenix. My tentative goal was 2,800 miles away with my grandparents the only people I was certain would take me in. All day I had been hitch-hiking and my last ride dropped me at a highway rest area just before their exit. Night was beginning to fall and I reasoned that the top of one of the picnic tables was probably the safest refuge from snakes and scorpions. So I rolled out my sleeping bag and struggled into it trying not to fall off the edge of the table. There I lay looking up into a vast sky filled with stars wondering where I belonged as I fell asleep.
In spite of the occasional tractor trailer roaring by, amazingly I slept soundly and woke feeling refreshed just as the sun began to rise. Though my wallet sheltered just two one dollar bills keeping each other company I didn’t waste time worrying, instead I began looking for someone willing to give me a ride into the next town. That is when I met Barry. He looked to be just a couple of years older than me and judging from the happy look on his face I figured he might be willing to help.
“Hi, my name’s Peter and I wondered if you might be willing to give me a ride towards Flagstaff” I asked trying to sound relaxed.
“Not going that way till tonight.” Barry answered. “We’re headed into Phoenix to go to church right now. If you want to come with us there’s a free lunch and then tonight we can take you as far as we are going.” He said as he headed towards his car.
(Wow a ride and free lunch: what could be better than that?) I thought. “Sure that’d be fantastic!” I answered smiling as I piled into the back seat of Barry’s car. “This is my friend Kathy.” Barry said as he started the car. She turned around with a friendly smile and waved as we sped up the entrance ramp back out onto the highway.
First we stopped for breakfast at a little dinner and then we headed into North Phoenix. The desert gradually disappeared being replaced by wide avenues lined with homes, palm trees and heavy traffic. I was amazed at how friendly these strangers were towards me but besides asking me a few questions about where I was going they didn’t pry into my business so I relaxed and began to eagerly look forward to whatever lay that day.
Once we pulled into the church parking lot at the church people Barry introduced me to a few of the other young people who were milling around outside the door of the small church. Most of them quickly moved inside and up towards the front, while I found a safer looking seat as far in the back as I could. As I listened in on the conversations around me it suddenly dawned on me that this was not just any Sunday; it was Easter! There I sat feeling like a visitor from a distant star system wondering where I had landed. All around were people smiling and talking to me as if I was some expected guest or long lost relative….
Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story Part Two How Easter Found Me