One of my favorite pastimes is people watching. Based on what I see and hear, I sum people up and attempt to imagine their story. Observations are made and conclusions are drawn whether they are right or not. If someone else saw the same person, they would detect a different story.
Recently, I spent several hours waiting for flights at the airport. The airport is a metropolis of rushing bodies coming and going from one destination to the next. It’s as if people are chanting the words of the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date!!” The gates were bustling and Starbucks was brewing as person after person crossed my path. Some took a seat, others stood and pondered, and others passed right on by. Unofficially, I came across jilted lovers, honest businessmen, dishonest spouses, grieving souls, unwanted children, vacationers with a rendezvous in another city, family members looking forward to a reunion, runners—young and old trying to escape, and searchers…just looking for something new under the sun. Some had round trip tickets and others had a one way ticket to a new life.
Something stirred inside me with each different person. Indeed, we were crossing paths. Was God giving me a two hour layover for a reason? Was He creating a little timetable for me to make a difference in someone else’s life? Even with this realization, I would consciously avoid eye contact and feel uncomfortable. There were a few I wanted to strike up a conversation with, but didn’t. Still, there were others that I hoped didn’t talk to me. For some reason, they disturbed me and I found myself making that infamous pact with God: Dear God, please take these people away and I will do everything else you ever ask me to do….even if I don’t have time, I’ll do everything! This trip hadn’t been intended for evangelism. So, I was going to sit right there in that airport and listen to my IPod—that was my plan! I was using my time in my own way by hook or by crook.
The thing that was true about each and every person is the fact that they all really did have a story and it should have been of utmost importance for me to listen to them. It is possible they would have allowed me to dig deeper and even surprise them by sharing something of worth to add to their story.
When I allow time to dictate whether I interact with someone or avoid them, I allow an eternally significant moment to pass through my fingertips. Shame on me! In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus commanded:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
This statement is famously called the Great Commission— one of Jesus’ final commands to His disciples. But, the command was not only intended for those men who stood before Him on that day. Am I not a disciple? If so, it was intended to echo through the ages and become a part of my spiritual walk right here today. This should be the heartbeat of every believer. The Great Commission—a command not merely a suggestion.