I was sitting in my car near a park, windows open, filling in time. As I sat, I noticed a young man walk across my field of vision, sit down in some bushes on the edge of the park and pull out his mobile. I then became an invisible witness to the distressed phone call he made to his brother.
“I failed. I’m so stupid, the pass mark is only 44 and everybody I know passed first time. How come I didn’t? I’m so stupid…”
As the conversation unfolded the tone of the young man became more and more distressed, more and more desperate, until finally... “I’m right near a railway line, I could…”
My heart plummeted. This was scary. I was out of the car and walking across the park to the young man before I knew it.
“I’m so sorry,” I told him, “I’ve been sitting in my car and I couldn’t help but overhear your phone call; are you okay?”
It turned out that the cause of his distress was his failure to pass the hazard perception test, which is required in Victoria for a driver’s licence. Nothing huge, but for this young guy it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. As we stood there in the park, he told me of the other stuff; the deeper stuff that was going on his life.
He spoke of his girlfriend breaking up with him via text, the girlfriend who had inspired him to go for his licence, who he had sacrificed his living arrangements for, who had broken his heart. He told me about the depression that he thought he had beaten, until this moment.
I didn’t do very much, just listened, but I saw this conversation as a moment when God put me in the right place to minister to this distressed boy. Was it a spiritual conversation? Absolutely, because I believe I was where God needed me to be to minister to someone who was hurting.
In chaplaincy we don’t often have the grand spiritual conversations that lead to the point of conversion, an explanation of the four spiritual laws, or praying the sinner’s prayer.
But I believe every conversation we have, whether God is mentioned or not, is a spiritual one as God’s spirit in me reaches out to his spirit in another, who is made in his image and enfolded in his amazing love. We just need hearts that are obedient to God’s leading and ears that hear the whisper, sometimes shouts, of his prompting.