The time leading up to my baptism was pregnant with meaning. Conversations, experiences, books I read, people I talked to, music I listened to, all were ushering me inexorably towards my ultimate surrender to God.
Later, after the fact, I could see some of those moments for what they were. I could trace the workings of the Holy Spirit as a kind of map to my salvation. I was often left feeling grateful to God, but also grateful to the people who where his unwitting accomplices.
One of these moments took place in a bar. A good friend of mine had started to get involved with a self-actualization program in Boston and invited me and our mutual Irish friend to join her for an introduction. We agreed to go, mostly to be supportive of her. The evening was not at all what we expected. It turned out it was mainly a sales event, trying to get us to sign up for their program. So, Irish friend and I left halfway through the evening and walked a block to the nearest bar where we decided to have a beer while waiting for our friend to come out of her part of the meeting.
It was during that brief conversation in the bar that I started asking him questions about his faith. I hung on every word. I peppered him with all kinds of things. He is a man with a fairly inconsistent faith himself, but was raised Roman Catholic, so obligingly muddled through his answers the best he could. Some of his answers, in fact, were probably heretical. But during that conversation, a door cracked open in my heart. A tiny bit of God's light showed through, and to this day I count it as one of the most pivotal conversations I have ever had.
Circumstances were such that I didn't see him again for over 3 years, but last Saturday, at a suprise birthday party, he and his wife were there. We laughed and chatted and had a nice time... but at one point I took him and his wife aside to tell him how critical that conversation 3 1/2 years ago had been. I told him that he had helped plant a seed that was to ultimately turn my life around completely.
Both he and his wife were stunned. I believe he was even moved to tears.
God, in his wisdom, uses us, in our weakness, to plant seeds of faith and love in the world. My Irish friend, in HIS weakness, was one of many catalysts for my redemption. Despite the fact that his own relationship with God was rocky at times, he was, for me, a healer.
I just thought he needed to know that.