Surgery Tomorrow (12/01/2013 Update)

My surgery will be at 1pm tomorrow (Monday 12/2). I know many of you will be praying for me and I want you to know that my family and I are very grateful for your support. My wife Connie will post an update sometime Monday evening letting you all know how the surgery went.

I wanted to give you this short update on the time of my surgery and I will also take this opportunity to share this experience with you…

I had two pre-op appointments on Tuesday, 11/19. So I left my house that Tuesday morning headed to Ann Arbor. I had a half cup of coffee when I entered Eastbound I-94. It wasn’t long before my mug was empty. And so I started to debate with myself on whether to stop or not stop [for a refill]. Finally I gave in, taking exit 145 in Jackson I headed to the McDonalds. I went through the drive through and ordered a small coffee and small water.

As I approached the I-94 entrance ramp I noticed a man hitchhiking. I drove by him and went a few hundred yards before deciding to give him a ride. Something made me think of the Good Samaritan story in the bible and I didn’t want to be the one who passed by the person in need. So I stopped and proceeded to drive in reverse on the shoulder of the road. When I was close enough to the hitchhiker I stopped and honked the horn.TheMessanger

He turned and saw I was waiting for him and as he came towards the truck. He looked like a homeless man. He was bearded, wearing a thick old coat, standing over 6 foot tall. He opened the rear door to the truck and placed his backpack onto the rear seat. He then opened the front passenger door and climbed into the seat.

He smiled as he said “Sorry but I didn’t hear you stop.” I was thinking to myself “that’s because I didn’t stop” as I smiled back at him and said “no problem.”

I noticed he was missing some teethe and his face was weathered and worn. He said “as far as you can get me to Ann Arbor will be good.” I told him “you’re in luck, I’m going to Ann Arbor so I can take you all the way there.”

And so we started down the entrance ramp onto I-94, heading east towards Ann Arbor Michigan.

After entering the highway I realized my wallet was sitting in a cup holder next to my coffee and water, along with my phone. I couldn’t help but worry that I really should have put it in my pocket before picking up this guy. I was seriously afraid that he might take my wallet and phone. As he started to talk any fear I had was replaced with intense curiosity.

I don’t remember all the different scriptures he spoke but as we conversed he effortlessly weaved the word of God into our conversation. I was very impressed with how articulate this homeless man was. He obviously had a photographic memory of the bible. When he spoke it was as if he was reading the passages word for word.

He told me he was coming home from Cadillac. I mentioned that I had a friend who was a fireman in Cadillac and he said he likes firemen. I asked him what he went to Cadillac for. He said that he was almost home but God told him to continue on to Cadillac, and so he went. He mentioned that he had “health concerns” and the wanted to get to Cadillac before he couldn’t go. I believe he quoted Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” at this point in the conversation.

I asked him if he grew up in Ann Arbor and he told me that he grew up in Detroit. I mentioned that I also grew up in Detroit, near Conner and Gratiot. He said he knew the area well. He said that he bounced around Detroit, living on the East Side and West Side. And now his home was in Ann Arbor.
I mentioned that was a long way to hitch hike and he informed me that he actually walked a large portion of the way, pointing out that US 131 is one of the few highways that you can actually walk on.

I asked him what he did during the terrible storm that passed through Michigan a day earlier. He said he stayed in Marshall. He proceeded to describe the wrap-around porch at the Highlight drive-in restaurant. He said he took shelter in a corner of the porch. And as he prayed during the storm he couldn’t help but think about the storms mentioned in scripture, heralding the next coming of Jesus.

I asked him how he knew the bible so well and he told me that the scripture is always with him, everywhere he goes. He proceeded to take a little hand-held bible out of his pocket.

I offered him the small water from McDonalds. He said thanks but he wasn’t thirsty. He said he was watching his water and food intake. He said life on the road can be tough sometimes but he never worried because God saw to his provisions. This conversation ended up moving into a conversation about the apostles and their lives on the road. I mentioned something about John the Baptist living in wilderness and how tough that life must have been. He said “John actually ate very well. He had locust and honey for dinner.” He went on to say “Locust and Honey is very delicious; a little crunchy but very good.”

I mentioned that I had to stop for Gas but was waiting to get to Ann Arbor since gas was lower there. He asked me how I knew the gas was lower there. I pointed to my phone and explained about an app called “gas buddy.” He said to not trust machines and that gas buddy was wrong this time. He also said that the average gas price that they publish in Michigan is lie.

At one point I mentioned that I was going to Ann Arbor to be treated for cancer. He then told me that he had cancer too. As we talked about dealing with cancer I mentioned that sometimes I feel like I’m living on borrowed time and that I had to make my time count. He acted puzzled and said that he was confused by this expression “borrowed time.” He said “You can’t borrow time because you can’t pay it back. Time is a gift. We didn’t ask for it but we are given it nevertheless.”

I said something about our time on earth being a brief time in comparison to eternity in heaven. And that we had to live with a focus on eternity. He disagreed with me, saying that we must focus on the here and now. He explained that we can make a difference in the here and now and this must be our focus as we live out each day.

When I went to drop him off in downtown Ann Arbor he leaned towards me placing his hands on my shoulders. And he said a prayer and blessing, calling me brother. As he was exiting the truck I grabbed my wallet and took out a ten dollar bill. I extended it to him. He said that wasn’t necessary. I practically insisted that he take it. I asked him to please have lunch on me. He finally smiled and took the small gift.

I then proceeded to my appointment and continued to wonder about this person throughout the rest of the day. The next morning I told my wife about him when we woke. I later told a colleague at work about him as well. They both insisted that I picked up an Angel.

I’m not sure he was an Angel but I am sure he was God’s messenger. And his faith and knowledge of the scripture certainly left an impression on me.

By the way, he was right about the gas prices in Ann Arbor. Gas Buddy was wrong that day.

Thank you for your prayers and support. And I pray that Father God bless you and keep you in safety and fill your hearts with love and joy as you embrace this day!


When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings—money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high. —Oatman

Count your many blessings and you’ll soon lose count.

9 Comments on “Surgery Tomorrow (12/01/2013 Update)”

  1. Krea Gregory says:

    Phil: I have been praying for you as you have approached your surgery date. And, I will be praying for you tomorrow.
    The Lord has certainly given you a thought-provoking experience with the hitchhiker. I’m glad you are pondering it.

  2. Trina & John says:

    Wow, you indeed picked up an Angel that day, a wonderful messenger from God! Our love and prayers are with you!

  3. Cathy Duncan says:

    Phil that was awesome!! I am sure it was an angel!! Good luck tomorrow and we will be praying for you and a speedy recovery.

  4. Linda Mejaly says:

    Phil keeping you my thoughts and prayer. Just want you to know I LOVE reading your post they are soooo uplifting. Wishing you all the best tomorrow with a great outcome and quick recovery.

  5. lmejaly says:

    Phil keeping you my thoughts and prayers. Also wanted you to know how I LOVE reading your postings they are always so uplifting. Wishing you well tomorrow that the outcome is great and a quick recovery. It’s amazing just how strong we can be. May God Bless You and watch over you with his healing hands.

  6. Kathleen g says:

    Wow – u r a lucky man! xo

  7. Linda says:

    Praying that all is going well for you! God certainly places those in our paths that can help us through the day and tough times. Praise God!! Glad you were open to His leading to pick up that man!

  8. Lisa says:

    Phil, I just wanted to tell you that I found your blog by chance. I do not know you but am certain that we would be fast friends. I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer at age 44 and can relate to many of your posts. I love this one. In the next few weeks I will begin treatments with erbitux, so I googled that and it lead me to you. In one of your posts, I remember reading that you didn’t exactly know why you began this blog, so I just wanted you to know that you are touching lives. Praying that your recovery is progressing and wishing you a Happy, Blessed New Year.

  9. […] of you may recall a previous posting I did a while ago about an angel I met on my way to Ann Arbor. This angel told me that time on this […]

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