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In years past, the word “devotional” would have filled me with a restless desire to do anything else but that, whatever ‘that’ is. BORING! Who came up with this word!?  What does it mean!?  I can’t say that the feeling is gone for good.  Sometimes it creeps back in like an uninvited guest.  

I sat down to coffee in my favorite place in Austin.  Music, voices, some loud, some soft.  To my left, an attractive woman in a business suit. To my right, a basement dweller?  He had kindly motioned me to share ‘his’ table.  Was he an angel in disguise?  Was she the devil?  I looked forward, outside, and tried not to stare at either one of them.  This is where the ‘spiritual’ rubber meets the road, right?  Between temptation and judgement.  

My apple watch vibrated lightly, followed almost simultaneously by my phone, and I knew what it would say.  I put it there.  My way of subjugating the ‘bitten apple’ to my will:  “Pray/Devotional.”  It’s ‘that’ time… In times past, I would have smiled and dived in. This time, a furtive glance at my Bible, and with pursed, determined lips I stare forward, past the table, the bench, the window and the side walk into the curb.  Into the cab of a white truck. 

A man wearing a reflective vest jumps in and and slams the door shut.  I am not sure why I am drawn to him.  Perhaps it’s the idea of what he can do what I can’t: shut the door and find peace and quiet in my own little world.  I am not wired to ignore my surroundings, I need to make that happen with loud music in my ears or in the quiet of my hotel room or both. 

I stare at him, knowing that unlike my neighbors he can’t see me.  I look intently as he grabs a large brown book and, after carefully placing reading glasses on the tip of his nose, begins to read.  The weight of the paper and the girth of the book give it away. 

He, this other man, from another land, another life, is doing exactly what I should be doing.  He thinks nobody knows?  But I know.  God knows, and I am blessed.  I am reminded that I am not alone in this life and in this quest.  And now I know more about what ‘that’ word means than I did before.

I want to thank this man in Austin for his faithfulness. I want to let him know that I saw him and was strengthened, not by anything he said, but by what he did.  His devotion to the Word of God in a world devoid of even common courtesy and respect for it.  I get a sense that I will see him again, that I will thank him in person. Is this what heaven will be like?  I think so…glorious!