I left Carl and Bee a couple of days ago and flew into Philadelphia to visit my daughter and her husband. Less than forty-eight hours later, I am sitting in the airport waiting for the plane that will take me home. As I sit here in the back corner up against the window, my tendency is to watch the people that walk pass me.
Everyone with their own destination and unique story. One gray haired woman walks up to a row of chairs, dusts one off, and seems to be nestled in until the plane is boarded. But when a worker with a vacuum cleaner begins to suck dust nearby, she retreats to a chair further away. In a distant corner, a young couple snuggles together watching something on her phone, oblivious to the world around them.
People in wheelchairs, airline pilots and the stewardesses with their crisp uniforms walk by with the sole purpose of doing their jobs. But the one person that stands out the most is an older woman that stands near the entrance of the airport sobbing. As I made my way up the escalator, I hear the sound of despair from this person who stands clinging to the wall and wiping her eyes.
A thought races through my brain to turn and go to her and somehow comfort this stranger. But I am on the way up the escalator being pulled away from this person with her own unique story. A story with a sorrowful chapter that is being played out right in front of me.
Why didn’t I turn around and go to this woman? Why did I feel that getting on with my own story was more important than becoming a part of hers? What has caused me to become so selfish and not willing to give up a couple of minutes of my day?
The moment is gone. I can only pray that she did find some solace for the agony that caused her to weep in the public arena of an airport. As for me, I will ponder the lesson that lays before me. I believe I forfeited a spiritual encounter for the convenience of going on with my story where I play the lead role.
Jesus clearly states in Matthew 25:40 “Truly I say to you, as you did to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” In this passage, Jesus is stating how the sheep will be divided from the goats when we meet Him in heaven. This stranger that I left could have been the very person He was referring to in this passage.
I can only go forward. Home to Carl and Bee and my own story. But hopefully, next time I encounter a stranger in need, I will look beyond the surface of the circumstances and see Jesus holding out His arms. And even if the stranger pushes me away, I will know that Jesus will be waiting for me in my heavenly home. And He will say to me. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” Matthew 25:34