(10-minute read).
When I was at Bible College a few years ago, I had the opportunity to drive Philip Yancey and his wife to their hotel room with a friend from the Church. I quickly mentioned that I was a huge fan and had read almost all of his books up to that point. Unfortunately, I did not have any books for him to sign, but I felt a deep sense of calm when he smiled politely and said thank you when I told him how his books impacted my life. This week, I was reminded once more of something he wrote that really changed the way I perceive and walk with God in my everyday life, and I want to share it with you guys. He wrote,
The ‘Castle’ into which Christian’s retreat is the Church. That makes me sad as well because God does not limit Himself to the four walls of a sanctuary. Jesus himself looked for God, not among the pious at the synagogue, but in a widow who had two pennies left to her name and in a tax collector who knew no formal prayers; he found his spiritual lessons in sparrows sold at a market, and in wheat fields and wedding banquets, and yes, even in the observations of a half-breed foreigner with five failed marriages. Jesus was a master at finding God in unexpected places.
There are quite a few unexpected places where I found God amongst some people in my journey over the years, and I wanted to share them here for you guys to see that God is sometimes found in these “Unexpected Places.”
The Homeless Beggar.
I just left school and wondered what to do with my life all day. I had no preordered plan, and my parents were not big on getting me to think about my future. I wondered for weeks where I would go and what I would do. I felt anxiety and restlessness, unsure of what would happen next. To make things even worse, all my friends had plans to study, work, or do something meaningful with their lives. As a new Christian, I dreamed of attending bible college, but it was not a sure idea. A few years later, I would go, but a man stood beside me while I was washing the car in the driveway. He asked for some water, and I told him I would get some from the fridge. I ran into the house, filled the glass, and headed back to the driveway to give the water to him. He quickly drank the whole glass and thanked me; as he walked away, he turned around and said to me in perfect English, “Rudolph, you don’t have to worry about your future; God will make a way.” I answered something like, “Oh, ok, thanks.” And walked to the kitchen to put the glass into the basin. I thought, “That was weird…” and then walked back outside to see if he was still around, but he was gone, I looked up the street, but he disappeared quickly in an instant. That day I was assured God sent an angel. Yes, and angel to give me some words of comfort, and from that day, my life really went in the direction I believe it should, but it was unexpected. I had quite a few instances like this over the years where God “caught me off guard.”
The Headbanger Mystic.
One night, I watched a YouTube video and saw this incredibly gifted guitar player from the band Korn testify how he became a follower of Jesus. In fact, here is one of the songs Brian “Head Welsch of the Neo-Metal band Korn plays in. The words are captivating, and I love that God can speak even through heavy Rock songs. In the words of the song, these words stood out. “Savior of wretched man. My dead bones are at Your feet…” As I listened to his testimony, tears filled my eyes as I understood that Jesus was the God who pitched His tent amongst us (Joh. 1:14 (MSG). There is a story in the Talmud where someone asks a Jewish Rabbi how they will recognize the Messiah if he comes one day. The Rabbi says, “He will be amongst the poorest of the poor sitting at the temple gate.” The Temple Gate was the place reserved for beggars and outcasts. Brian’s testimony reminded me of the beauty of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit when Jesus shows up. Even more amazing is that Brian left the band for some time, then returned because I think he understood that Jesus wasn’t ashamed of where he redeemed him and wanted to use him in the context he called him to be. I love that! You can watch his film “I am Second” trailer here. This is not for the hyper-religious but for the grace-filled rascals that are sold out on the best love story ever told. The love of Jesus our Lord.
That Rod Steward Song.
A few years ago, I sat on a chair waiting for my then-spiritual mentor Peter to pin his darts on a dart board while we enjoyed a cold beer and listened to the radio. There was a song playing by Rod Steward, “Have I told you lately that I love you…” Suddenly, Peter’s whole demeanor changed; he closed his eyes and filled with tears. The whole song, he did not move. It was obvious that this song had a very deep meaning for him. Peter opened his eyes when the song ended, and I asked, “Is this a song about an old flame or love?” “No, not at all, lad. This is God and my song. “What!” I said. Peter explained, “Everywhere I go, it seems like this song plays when I am down, wayward, or feel some distance or unrest between me and God, and I know it is Him speaking those opening words to remind me that He is close.” Sadly, Peter passed, but this song has stuck with me. And you would not believe me, but this song will find me wherever I go, especially when I feel wayward, unrest, sinful, or in pain. In Checkers Hyper, in the car, at restaurants, and even while walking in the mall. It always plays at the right time, and every time it seems like God is close and he is “checking in.”
The Wounded Healer.
I have this special friend; he is forever 18, a huge Bulls fan, and is currently navigating this world with Parkinson’s Disease. You can check out our conversation on “How to deal with suffering” on my YouTube channel. Johan is a true friend and strangely prophetic, not prophetic in a “thus saith the Lord” kind of way, but in a “hey buddy, how are you” kind of way. I surely had many pals I journeyed with throughout the years; some of them were seasonal friendships, and only very few were lasting. There is a difference; Johan should be the desperate and the needy, but I am the broken one in our relationship. He is the one who always prays, always hopes, and always tells me that Jesus has got it all in the end. In the face of Parkinson’s, he never complains, embraces his discomfort, and praises the Lord despite it. Sadly, many people have told him that he should have more faith to be healed, but he reminds them that he would not be as close to the Lord if it were not for his disease. I again see God in this unexpected place, the place of discomfort and want. The place where someone should be bitter but chooses to hope. The place where some would give up, but he rather gives praise. God seems to dwell in his discomfort; whenever he calls me, I am filled with hope and light. Not just because he is a Bulls fan but because He is a wounded healer.
Now hear me out; I know that Jordan Peterson means many things to many people. But let me tell you what I found when I started listening to Peterson. It is not his unflinching conviction between right and wrong or just his policies against the unfair political regimes of the draconian state. There is something else that I find deeply satisfying, and that is his desire to see the Bible speak about the human experience. If you read his “12 Rules for Life” and watch some of his lectures, you quickly notice that Peterson clearly holds that the West was built by a Biblical moral and can predict exactly where humanity is heading. He also believes that Biblical narratives can help us avoid certain pitfalls and call us back to reconsider the values we have benefited from when considering our freedoms and fate. The fact that these stories speak is what I find intriguing. So many people have forgotten the divine encounter in the mundane human experience, and Dr. Peterson calls us back to the place where we can be assured that “God still speaks.” In these Bible stories, we can find the truth about who we really are and find the strength to live by the conviction that belongs to us. I have watched hours of Dr. Peterson’s lectures and can only assume I benefited from his wisdom. But even with his lectures, I see a man calling people back to that place of hope, where they live under God’s rule and care. Obviously, some people do not want it and even consider his message to be oppressive and outdated. I know why some people might find his message wanting because they do not believe that the Bible speaks. I cannot but affirm the faint whisper that comes through this man to us. I do not idolize the man, but I can see the clear message, and once more, can I encounter the divine.
The lady who had God’s ear.
After Candice and I got married, we went through a tough patch with work and our future. I was still into book bags and skinny jeans, and Candice still loved mountain breezes. We desperately needed advice and, most of all, prayer! I remembered that close to us, there were a community of woman who would pray every morning, afternoon, and evening and rumor had it that when they prayed, they had God’s ear. I can remember one afternoon, I think it was a Saturday, and we drove all the way to a Carmelite monastery of St. Theresa. All they did was pray, and we needed lots of it. We spent the whole afternoon praying scripture and petitioning God with one lady, and then we left. And we were assured that we would be the object of prayer for the coming months, where they would hold us before God in prayer. It amazes me how much happened since then. Things seemed to improve, and things started to work themselves out. We rarely remember the times of desperate prayer when we really need God to intervene in our lives and daily affairs. The whole exercise told me that God also dwells in other communities and even grants answers to people’s prayers outside of our own context. God cares, and God listens to us and others. Candice and I still treasure the assurance until today that God would come through for us. While I am writing this, I get that deep knowing of God being faithful. Prayer is key, and we discovered that letting someone pray for you is sometimes okay. If you have any prayer requests, please feel free to let us know how we can pray for you. Richard Foster reminds us that,
Simple Prayer involves ordinary people bringing ordinary concerns to a loving and compassionate Father. There is no pretense in Simple Prayer. We do not pretend to be more holy, more pure, or more saintly than we actually are. We do not try to conceal our conflicting and contradictory motives from God—or ourselves. And in this posture we pour out our heart to the God who is greater than our heart and who knows all things (1 John 3:20).
In conclusion, I dearly hope this article made you think about where God can reach you. I truly believe that God’s primary purpose is to speak to us through a community of brothers and sisters where we can cry, “Abba”. Be blessed in knowing God is to be found in the most unexpected places, through the most unexpected people. Be blessed.
 I am indebted to Phillip Yancey for writing a complete book where he finds Jesus in unexpected places.
 Pg. 12. Finding God in Unexpected places.
 Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home