Our theme for the month of October was selected by readers and is a format challenge: write a post completely in dialogue.
Day 6 of Traveling on Trust
Tuesday, June 25
“I had to stop when I saw your sign,” said Jacob, a contractor headed all the way to the Minnesota border. “What are you trusting in?”
“Everyone who gives me a ride,” I said.
“Are you trusting in God?”
“I prayed at one or two points on this trip.” I smiled to make it look like an understatement.
“I knew stopping was a good idea.”
Jacob tossed a pile of folders and notebooks into the back seat, and I threw my backpack into the truck bed.
“The Bible doesn’t say to take a pill,” he was saying. “Doctors can do some amazing things, but they aren’t who the Bible says to turn to, right?”
“So you never go to the doctor?”
“Haven’t been sick in years. If I wake up with a scratchy throat, I command it in the Lord’s name to go away, and it does.”
“What if you did get sick?”
“I won’t get sick.”
“But if you did.”
“My wife was diagnosed with skin cancer a long time ago, before I became a Christian. They said she needed chemotherapy, but she didn’t want it. So she prayed, and the people in her church prayed, and when she went back to the doctor a month later, the cancer was gone. The docs couldn’t explain it.” Jacob shook his head and smiled. “Can I get an Amen?”
The last of North Dakota was passing beside us. Oil wells appeared less often on this side of the state, and I didn’t see any drilling rigs. It looked like more of eastern Montana. Flat and plain.
“I used to drink, smoke, and cuss all the time,” Jacob said. “I disrespected women, and to be honest, I wasn’t a very nice person. Then my wife filed for divorce. That rocked me. I took a hard look at my life, and I gave it all to Jesus. I quit everything cold turkey. Alcohol, cigarettes, swearing. I even threw out all my AC/DC and R-rated movies.”
“That’s a big switch.”
“It was, but I needed it. God gave us boundaries for a reason.”
“He gave us some,” I ventured, “but I think the church gave more.”
I nodded along to a complicated story about the time God told Jacob to drive sixteen hours to a small town in Arkansas, where Jacob would find a man with a red tie, and the red tie would mean Jacob should walk into the next church he saw and pray for the woman he would find there, who would be the mother a drug-addicted son. Jacob drove to Arkansas, and the woman cried after he prayed over her. Jacob told me God had promised to give him a plane someday so he could plant a church in Honduras. Jacob knew it would happen because he had seen the plane in a dream.
“Meeting you was a divine encounter. I’m living on trust, too.” Jacob grinned, as if my existence validated his life. “I need five thousand dollars by next Monday, and right now I only have nine hundred bucks to my name.”
“That might be a problem.”
“God called me and my wife to quit our jobs and move out here, and for the last few months, we’ve been wondering what God had in mind. The money started getting tight, and we weren’t seeing any work, and I’ll admit it. I started doubting. But God pulled through and gave me a contract to build a housing development, and this contract is going to lead to a lot more contracts in the future. It’s not a man camp, I’m talking real houses for real families. I got the guys—I just don’t got the capital yet.”
“And this project starts Monday.”
“God will provide,” Jacob said. “Your trip reminded me of that. He called me and my wife here for a reason. He’ll be faithful.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“You’re exactly the reminder I needed. I need to stop worrying and start trusting.”
I took a pen and a crumpled receipt from Jacob’s cupholder and scribbled down my phone number. “When the money comes in,” I said, “give me a call. I want to hear about it.”
“I’ll be calling you, all right.”
Jacob asked me to pray with him at the border of North Dakota and Minnesota. He thanked God for sending me, and he asked God for four thousand dollars, and he asked God to keep me safe. Maybe Jacob lost my phone number, or maybe he forgot, or maybe my 1 looked too much like a 7, but I never heard from him again.
NPR called Josh “a modern-day Jack Kerouac” after he wrote about his 7,000-mile, no-money hitchhiking journey through the United States. Since hitchhiking, he’s found homes in the Pacific Northwest, the Episcopal Church, and the post calvin. He builds websites as the director of Branded Look LLC. Josh’s writing has appeared in places such as The Emerson Review, Front Porch Review, and Perspectives.