It’s amazing how I am learning to see things differently because I’m a Christ follower. It’s as if my eyes are now seeing the world in “high definition.” Instead of “other’s needs” being experienced as interruptions or intrusions on my day, they are now seen as missionary opportunities right here, right now, where I live and work.
Opportunities at Play
Last summer my daughter and I went to watch my grandson’s baseball game. This particular field was oddly placed a very long way from the school parking lot; we all had to carry our chairs, blankets and water bottles a great distance. Most folks were already seated and watching the game when we got there. While I was setting up our chairs, I noticed a bent-over older grandpa walking across the long distance with this walker. His steps were slow and calculated. I felt so bad for him, but he had a purpose in his steps. He was coming to watch someone special to him play – perhaps a grandson. Many minutes later he arrived at the game.
The wind picked up and most of us put our blankets around our shoulders or over our heads as rain the threatened. Grandpa had his blanket too. Those clouds blew over but left a pretty cool temperature behind. I needed to leave before the end of the game and started my long walk back to the school parking lot. Coming toward me was the grandpa, moving his walker step by step. He was coming from the direction of the restrooms back at the school.
As he got closer, I said, “Where is your blanket? It’s cold out here.” He replied, “It’s hard to keep the blanket on my shoulders when my hands have to hold the walker.” I wished him well and hoped he would enjoy the rest of the game. By the time I got to my car, more clouds had moved in. It had started to lightly sprinkle. I was safe in my car and warm.
And then it hit me! Grandpa is wearing only a T-shirt and the rain was now more than a sprinkle. Grandpa had a long way to go at his slow pace. I backed out from my spot and drove to the footpath that led to the field. Mind you, this took one to two minutes. My compassion was too late. He was nowhere to be seen. I had a blanket in the trunk of my car and an extra umbrella. Why didn’t I say, “I’ll be right back to walk with you. I’ll get my umbrella.” I am sure now that God gave me an opportunity to be salt and light to this dear man and I missed the opportunity. I grieved over this moment for months, promising God that I would not mess up another opportunity to be his hands and feet and heart.
Opportunities at Work
A few months later at my new job as a café checkout clerk, two women and two young boys came in and sat at one of the tables. One of the women bought herself a Starbucks and one cup of jello for the boys to share. The second woman said she had a bad headache and laid her head on her hands on the table. They stayed quite a while. One of the mothers drank her second Starbucks while the boys looked at her hungrily. I thought that these families might be homeless.
Here was another opportunity to help one of “the least of these” that Christ told us to serve. God was in this moment. My compassion came alive. I got a cold wet hand towel and offered it to the lady with the headache. She was apprehensive but then appreciative. She put the cool towel over her folded hands and her forehead down on the towel. God had spoken in my heart. I had heard and acted by offering “a cool drink of water” in the form of a towel.
This last story also happened at work as I was headed home for the day. I noticed a Grandma pushing a shopping cart. What really caught my eye was the precious little head of the small sleeping child she cradled in one hand while trying to maneuver the cart with her other hand. She was headed to the checkout lane.
I turned around and followed her. So as not to startle her, I spoke from short distance, “May I help you?” She turned and saw this stranger offering help and then replied with the grateful words, “Oh, that would be wonderful! Thank you!” I was going to let her continue to hold this sweet little boy while I unloaded her cart, but instead she asked if I would hold him while she checked out. I was happy either way. I took her place, unbeknownst to the little guy, as we exchanged the hand holding his head.
I was in heaven! Jesus loves these little ones and so do I. He was a beautiful little Asian boy with Down syndrome. My heart melted for him. As Grandma was completing her order, I said a silent blessing over this precious child. “You are loved by God the Father and the Spirit of the living God dwells and delights in you!!! God has a plan for you, little one.”
In my previous life, I may have offered help, but I’m pretty sure I would not have offered a blessing over a sleeping child. God gives me many opportunities to be salt and light to his beloved people and I am learning to act in time to provide relief. I am keeping my promise to God but even more than that, Christ- in- me is transforming the world . . . one person at a time.