I met him at a truck stop in the middle of Arizona. He was sipping coffee and looking out the big bay window when I slid into his booth. "You know," he murmured quietly after my coffee had been delivered, "I always meant to come back and add a little more color here. I started at the Painted Desert, but," sighing heavily, "I got distracted and never made it back. Sometimes I get so busy with the big picture I forget the little things."
As I rummaged in my brief case for a tape recorder, he put his hand on mine and smiled a smile that was nothing short of beautiful. "You won't need that. Just listen to my ramblings."
"You do know, ummm," I realized I didn't know what to call him. God seemed, well, too informal and Mr. God didn't fit either. "You do realize," I started again, "That I am not a student of the Bible or even," I was embarrassed but continued, "I'm not always sure exactly what I believe in."
He took a long sip of coffee, before turning away from the window and facing me. His voice was low and gentle. "I know. And please call me God. So many people," he took a heavy deep breath, "Are in your position now. The world of Christianity has become so filled with hate and ugliness, so reviled and honestly," again he looked in my eyes, "For lack of a better word, evil. So many would rather be called agnostics or even atheists rather than accept the name Christian. So sad," he shook his head slowly, "So very, very sad. Anyway," I was again overwhelmed by his smile, "Just sit back and listen to the rumblings of this old man. It'll make both of us feel better."
All I could do was agree.
"First, and I have to get this off my chest right now. But, first, wealth and power are not rewards or blessings from me. I wouldn't do that. I would never, ever," his voice turned vehement, "Favor one person over another with material things. It is just not my style. My gift to an individual is, more often than not, talent of one sort or the other. More often than not, wealth, power," he paused as if searching for the right words, "Are a test, kindasorta, of the individual involved. I want to see how it is handled. If it will be used for the good of all people or worshiped as the end in itself. Sadly, most fail the test. Years ago I once said, and it was one of my better analogies if I say so myself, to para phase myself," and he laughed out loud at his joke, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get to heaven. Camels are," he grunted, "Nasty animals. Not one of my finer moments. Don't get me wrong," he held up a hand, "They have their place and uses. But they are just not very nice and they smell. Camels just don't give warm, fuzzy vibes. But, back to wealth and power, do not," his voice became strong with conviction, "Do not ever equate wealth and power with goodness, morality, ethics or standards. It just don't wash."
I was all tangled up in the rich tones of his voice, and couldn't find mine, so I just nodded as our coffees were refilled. I waited as he stirred cream and two sugars into his rich, dark brew. "Another thing," he finally continued, "Don't ever, ever, as in never judge and/or condemn the personal decisions of another. I created," he was now in a lecturing mode,"Every human being, every single one, different. Every human has unique and different challenges, decisions and choices to make. I did not make life as a one-size-fits-all. Where is the fun in that? Some choices that are wrong for one are right for another. I do not," his voice raised slightly, "Ask anyone to answer for any choices, but their own. Sometimes," he shrugged, "Wrong choices are made, for sure. But I hold no one accountable but the one who made the choice, and," he grinned widely, "And most of the time I know why the choice was made, I understand and forgive. Forgiveness is a biggie with me."
"Of course," he continued while motioning for more coffee, then waiting to speak until it was served and stirred. "Of course I want every pregnancy to be a live birth. But, sometimes, it is just not meant to be. And there are a myriad of reasons why. But sometimes it is my plan that no one else is privy to. Will your politicians, preachers, and pundits take me to court and charge me with abortion?" Snorting, "This whole thing of personal choice, responsibility and accountability is getting way, way, out of hand. Sometimes I just want to scream that I did not die and no one else was appointed God. I still have the job and the title."
He was getting angry, and it was coming out like steam in his words. "Tell me, please," with more than a slight touch of sarcasm, "Is the unborn child more important than a child already in this world? Is is more important to worry about something that may or may not happen than to feed a child that is a reality? Is it more important for the insurance companies to gather obscene profits than for the ill and diseased to have medical care? Is is more important for your politicians to have elevators for their cars and never ending sound bytes than it is for your elderly to have a roof over their heads? Are your banks more important than lives now? Is your dollar more important than the earth I created?"
"Sometimes," he mused, seemingly as lost in his thoughts as I was in his words and voice. "Sometimes I get so angry when I hear all the fire and brimstone, all the punishments of eternal damnation and lack of love and understanding, caring, and forgiveness that are attributed to me. Do I," his eyebrows were now raised, "Seem like a hateful man to you? Do I act vengeful and hard? Do you think I'm the kind to just sit around and get a thrill smiting people?"
He scoffed outright. "Of course not. I am a nice man, a good man and I try to be as understanding as I can be. But damn it, it's just gone too far now. You people have made the toys you created more important than the lives I created. And that just ain't gonna cut it."
"Shit," after looking at his watch he gulped the last of his coffee, pushed away from the table and stood up as he threw down a five dollar bill. "I gotta hit the road. Gotta be in Seattle tomorrow night."
"You're a truck driver......" I could only sputter.
He dismissed me, "Sure, why not? You don't think all I do is sit around making everyone's decisions for them, do you?" He grinned boyishly, "Last month I was a train engineer. Besides, all work and no play is just not good for the soul. Remember that," his voice hardened, "When you think about people who have to work 2 or 3 jobs just to put food on the table so wealth and power can decide which of their tables to put their food on. If a poor man asks for you shirt, give him your coat."
He stuck his ball cap on his head and turned to leave, "I'll be passing your way again and will get in touch. I have your cell number. Never forget," he admonished over his shoulder, "Judge not least I judge you. Remember, I'll be watching."