Yesterday, I met a man who deeply blessed me. His name is Bill. Bill is an interesting character. His is fifty-five years old and has been hitchhiking for thirty seven years. He is a man that God has taken care of for all of those years. Bill is a Christian. This man does nothing but talk about God. That is Bill’s passion.
I met Bill unexpectedly. My friend Jason and I were heading to a store and as we crossed over Interstate 64, we see a man sitting on the side of the exit ramp amongst his packs. We decided to stop and talk with this man and possibly get him some food. Jason greeted Bill and asked how he was doing. Bill replied with one of the most memorable answers I had ever heard, “If I were doing any better, I would need medicine.” This threw me off. Never had I heard someone respond in such an excited manner and this coming from a man who has no home. As we would soon find out, Bill was always excited, mostly about God.
We then introduce ourselves and question Bill as to why he is doing well. He stated, “it’s because God has raised me up to live another day.” He then told us that he is a Christian and plants seeds in everyone that he meets. I just sat there and smiled with joy hearing Bill’s enthusiasm for God. We probably would have said more, but with Bill it can be a kind of tough to get a word in. We then find out that he is heading east to Mt. Vernon and we see if he would like a ride 10 miles closer to his destination. He takes us up on our offer.
As we are starting to drive we start talking about God, the Bible, and church. We also decide to head to IHOP to get Bill a meal. As we are walking tnto the doors of IHOP, Bill is still talking about God. By this point, I realize that Bill loves to talk about God. After a minute we are seated. As we are looking at the menus one of the funniest things happens, Bill gets really excited about macaroni and cheese. That was all he wanted. But they only have it in a small serving as part of the kids menu. This was funny because I thought that someone like him would be more excited about pancakes, steak, eggs, or something other than macaroni and cheese.
During the time that we sat at the restaurant, we learn more about Bill. When he was eighteen, his mother died. This acted as a catalyst to him living on the road full time. He had also been to every state except Hawaii. He had also visited parts of Canada and Mexico. He told us about how once while in Ft. Lauderdale, FL he had scraped together enough money to buy a bike. He then took that bike from Ft. Lauderdale all the way to Flagstaff, AZ over the course of a four month trip. After arriving in Flagstaff, he went to a restaurant where he met a man who told him about the Grand Canyon. The man offered to drive Bill half way there since it was 70 miles away. As they are driving Bill notices that the man missed his exit. The man decided to take Bill all the way.
After that story, Bill tells us how he got a ride from four young rich kids in Colorado. He was on his was to Pueblo when they picked him up. These four guys were adrenaline junkies or at least that is how Bill described them. They ended up going to a canyon that was very deep. There were planning on bungee jumping off of the bridge that crossed the canyon. After all four guys had jumped, the one asked Bill if he wanted to try it. Bill wasn’t sure if he wanted to jump. One of the guys recommended that Bill put the harness on and see how it felt. They then tied Bill to the rope so he could see just how everything worked. Bill was still unsure about jumping so they told him to go stand on the platform and get comfortable with the height. Once he stepped out there, they pushed him off the platform. Bill enjoyed the ride so much, that he jumped a few other times before leaving.
Meeting Bill inspired me in many ways. It also made me examine my life more closely. Bill lived a life that I would love to model. In many ways, Bill was much like Jesus. He was homeless. He traveled around preaching the gospel. His focus was on God’s kingdom. Most of all, he loved. Bill showed me that we need only to rely on God and nothing else. God provides what we need. God also gives life. Not just life that is barely living, but abundant life. A life that allows for adventure, one that causes people to stop and examine their own lives. Bill also taught me that we should use every opportunity to spread the love of God in some way. I hope that I never forget my encounter with Bill. Bill was the closest thing to Jesus I have seen yet in my life. I pray that one day I may be that to someone.