The other night, I hopped in an Uber Pool to go home after a long but great team meeting. I try to always be nice to people when I get into Ubers (not even gonna lie, this is because I want to get a high Uber rider score). So tonight, wasn’t any different than a thousand other greetings.
She asked what I had been up to and I told her that I was coming from a Team Meeting. She asked what kind of team and I was faced the dilemma I always get when asked what I do or why I moved to San Francisco - to lie and say something cool or tell the truth and face the common rejection and awkward silence of a car ride home.
Tonight, I told her that I had just left a church meeting about a life-giving church we are planting in San Francisco in September. Her response was similar to many of the responses that I’ve gotten since moving here.
“Im not religious but I’m more spiritual.”
Ahhh here it is again. The new way of saying, “I believe in this but I’m not with them.” I hear this from hurt Christians saying they believe in God but aren’t like “other” Christians. I’ve heard it from Muslims saying they follow Islam but don’t practice it. I’ve heard it from girls who’s primary way of connecting with something spiritually is Yoga and Hiking. It’s a beautiful way of saying I believe but I don’t practice or I don’t hold myself to standards and values that other believers hold to.
She went on to say that she was raised Catholic but some friends had gotten her into a new religion and she didn’t like it so now she just believed that there were many ways to get to God and many expressions of God.
We got into a heated debate on how wrong she is based on scripture and she gave her life to Jesus… said no one ever... Actually, we didn’t get into a debate. I recognized the hurt in her voice. I had to resist my urge to share my Biblical knowledge and instead focus on getting to the heart of the matter.
So I told her my story. The story of an angry and hurt church kid who was addicted and self-righteous. The story of someone who tried to make God happy and kept hurting himself and others. The story of how I encountered Jesus and He changed my life. When Jesus took my mess and showed me how much he loved me. How my life was no longer defined by my behavior but by His. How I was lost and trying to find God but instead He found me.
After I told me story, she told me hers. Stories of being hurt by what Christians had told her. Stories of rejection. Stories of feeling lost. And then she asked me the most peculiar of questions…
“If someone wanted to get back into that, what should they do? Start reading the Bible or going to church…?”
I interrupted her before she could go on. She was beginning to list off all the behavioral changes she thought she needed to do to be in relationship with God. I got to tell her that a life with Jesus isn’t characterized by what you do but by the relationship you build with him - like a lover you spend time intimately getting to know and not a master you do things for so they will be happy with you.
We dropped Amy off along the way (Uber Pool means you pick up additional people on the route with you). She may not have looked up from texting the whole time she was in the car but Amy heard the Good News of Jesus’ love the whole ride home.
When we finally got to my destination, I sat in the car and asked my Uber driver if she wanted a fresh start and a new life with Jesus. She said yes. Right there in my Uber, I got to lead my new family member to Jesus. I got to pray with her and she gave her life to Jesus. With tears in her eyes and a huge smile on her face, I got to see a transformation take place. Cecilia experienced the joy only Jesus can give.
I wrote down my contact information and gave it to her. I got to tell her all about a life-giving community that wants to help her and walk with her through life. I’m praying she reaches out or comes to our services one day.
I wish this story ended with her getting in a small group and being discipled and stepping into her purpose and destiny. I’m hopeful that the God who allowed me to be a part of planting the seeds of faith in her life is a good gardener and can grow her faith into a tree that produces fruit. I’m hopeful for her walk with Jesus.
Her decision to accept Jesus changed her world but it also changed mine. In the midst of a very difficult season of starting a church in San Francisco, I got to be up front and center to someone encountering the transformational grace of Jesus. One Uber car ride changed her life and changed my perspective on this city (along with the struggles of being here).
The harvest is plentiful and I’m thankful to be a laborer in this. I’m incredibly thankful for every person who has prayed and given towards what God is doing here. Cecilia’s eternity is forever changed because of our obedience. And the future is bright.