Wednesday, March 8
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
I was twenty-five years old and backpacking through East Asia on a shoestring. My journey took me to Osaka, Japan, to see the World’s Fair. Because there were no reasonable accommodations in Osaka, literally hundreds of us young travelers were camped out in the airport by night, making trips to the Fair by day.
I had befriended an American, Joe Jackson, and a Chinese man from Hong Kong, Alan Chen. Typically, we took the train from the airport to the Fair and back, but one night we stayed for the fireworks show and missed the last train. We decided to take a taxi back to the airport. None of us spoke Japanese and there was no meter in the taxi.
As we neared the airport, we asked the driver how much the fare was. In his best English, the driver said an outrageous number of Yen. We asked him to repeat it. He replied with the same outrageous number, a number more than the three of us could pay. Joe was angry and started yelling at the driver, who drove the car past the airport into points unknown. We asked the driver where he was going. No response.
Several minutes later the driver stopped the taxi in a busy neighborhood and got out. We also got out and Joe continued yelling at the driver. A crowd began circling us. Joe was yelling in English and the driver was yelling back in Japanese. More people joined the crowd. Alan and I were quietly standing near the taxi as Joe and the driver went at it.
As I stood there, a Japanese man came up to me and whispered in my ear in perfect English: “You are in a bad neighborhood. Take this money. Pay the driver and get out.” With that, he stuck hundreds of yen in my hand and left. I did exactly as he said and the driver safely returned us to the airport.
I am still in awe recounting this story. Dressed like a stranger in Japan, God inexplicably entered my life. Like the wind – or the Spirit – in today’s devotion, from whence it cometh or goeth, we do not know. We only know that God is there, abiding with us. Watching over us. Even encountering us.
Gracious God, we thank you for your abiding presence in our lives. Amen.