I’ll admit, I had to resist the temptation to do a double take when I first saw him.
This past Sunday night, my daughter Ella and I were taking a walk before dinner. Ella is getting teeth right now, which means that she is in constant rampage mode, and I needed to get her out of the house so that Jen could make dinner.
As we were walking, I saw three young guys headed toward us. Two of the guys looked relatively normal, but the third one caught my attention right away. He had huge, white discs, easily the width of a tea cup, jammed into holes in his ears. The only other people I’ve seen with their ears gauged that large are Amazon or African tribesman. It was a weird look.
He also was covered in tattoos and his face had various bits of metal sticking out of it. But here was the kicker: he had a live snake wrapped around his neck.
When I walked past him, my first thought was, “Now there’s a person trying to get attention, and I’m not going to give it to him.” Yeah, I know. Call me “Captain Kindness and Charitable Judgment”.
Immediately after passing the trio, my next thought was, “I should have invited those guys to church!” The first thought was from my judgmental heart. The second thought was from the Holy Spirit, who loves sinners. So I said a quick prayer, asking God to let me pass by those guys again so that I could invite them to church.
Now you need to understand something about me. When it comes to the whole boldness in evangelism thing, I stink. I really struggle with the fear of man. Some people can go into Starbuck’s, start talking to the barista (technical term meaning “one who pours coffee), and the next thing you know, the barista is saying the sinner’s prayer. That’s not me. So it was a clearly God working in me that I would want to invite these guys to church.
And wouldn’t you know it, five minutes later I saw the snake handling trio rounding the block about twenty yards in front of me. How do you start a conversation with a guy who has a snake wrapped around his neck? Do you say, “Hey! Nice snake!” Sounds kind of weird, right? So, not knowing what to say, I yelled out, “Yo, what kind of snake is that?”
He turned around and informed me that it was a python. We made small talk for a few moments, during which he informed me that he feeds live mice to the snake. Then I summoned my courage and invited all three of the guys to church. They politely thanked me and we went our separate ways. It was a small victory for me.
I don’t know if any of those guys will come to church, but I sure hope they do. Jesus loved hanging out with prostitutes and tax collectors, and I think he would probably enjoy hanging out with those guys as well. And I know that my church would welcome them too.
Maybe he could leave his snake at home though…