With all of the discussion around the travel ban of refugees, I find that this is a very fitting post for the societal arguments that are playing out. This is not a political post, and I will not lend an opinion either way. That is not the point of this post, nor do I wish for it to lean that way. This simply focuses on a person’s interaction with the next person that they encounter, regardless of any external circumstances.
Compassion is defined as sympathetic pity and concerns for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. As I moved forward during the days and weeks after I was initially diagnosed, I remember being angered by people’s reaction to the news. I didn’t need compassion, especially when the definition contained the word “pity” within it. My wife spent a lot of time calming me down after some of the interactions that I had with people. I realized after a few months that I was wasting extremely rare and valuable opportunities to share with people. While before June of 2014 I may have had interactions with people, I definitely did not have a reason that people would all ask the same question…”Why are you so happy?” How many times do we have someone come up to us and indirectly ask us to share our faith? I was sitting on an “evangelical goldmine” of opportunity. While this is overwhelmingly exciting, it also leads to lots of due diligence that must be done intentionally. Everyone that I speak to does not have the same background and experiences as I do, so I may not interact with each person in the same way. While the message does not deviate (as God’s Word does not change), we have to meet people where they are to establish a connection. If an iPhone is not fully connected to the charger, the act is worthless. When you connect in a sincere and meaningful way with people, that is when we can fully transmit the message and let God take care of the rest.
As a perfect example of how small my view is for God’s Plan, I will use last week. I mentioned in a previous post that I was speaking to an athletic program in North Carolina last Thursday. I had a meeting in Charlotte last Wednesday before heading toward the North Carolina coast for this engagement. I was focused on the speaking part of this trip, and didn’t really think much about the events leading up to it. As I got to an industrial part of West Charlotte where I was meeting someone, I realized that I probably needed to take a restroom break. There were only two gas stations on this road, and they were in an area that many would consider a rough area. There were four young men standing right outside of the station, and I rolled down the window to ask if there was a bathroom inside. I was assured that there was, and they held the door as I went inside. When I came back out, one of the gentlemen wanted to know if I wished to buy a Bluetooth. I informed him that I already had one, but thanked him anyway. I asked his name, and he immediately questioned why I wanted to know. I told him I wanted to know because mine was Jason, and conversations went better if we both could use names. He then wanted to know why I wished to have a conversation with him, and I informed him that I was about 45 minutes early for a meeting that was happening a mile down the road. He informed me of his name, and we talked for about 15 minutes. It was a great conversation, as I asked him why he held the door for me. He said that he had been hurt before, and it was always good if somebody helped him. I thanked him for his kindness, and I went to my meeting.
I arrived at my hotel later that evening in a small town outside of Whiteville, North Carolina. I checked in, and it happened to be the general manager of the hotel that checked me into my accommodations. He made sure to let me know that if I needed anything to let him know, and he would bring it to my room. I jokingly asked if they had any steak, and he informed me the nearest place was not in town. He then proceeded to tell me to settle in and he would go get it. I smiled and told him that would not be necessary. I asked him why he would offer to do that, as there is no other hotel competition in the town. He informed me that his family owns the hotel, and there only concern is how people are treated. We were able to have a conversation for approximately 30 minutes, which allowed us to converse about our differing viewpoints regarding our beliefs.
As I went to grab something to drink at the gas station, I noticed that the line was very long. After I checked out, a young man moved from his spot in line to come hold the door for me. I thanked him, and asked his name. He told me, and I asked why he moved out of his spot to help me? He informed me that his brother has cerebral palsy, and it has caused a rough time for his family. I was able to directly ask him at that time if I could pray for him, because my Jesus has and will see my family through tough times. He eagerly said “yes,” and I was able to share and pray with him.
All of these came about as a result of people’s compassion for me, someone that they do not know. God opens doors for us, and He will give us the strength and courage to carry it out. We also have to remember that the “main event” may not be nearly as significant as the steps that He puts in front of us to get there.
Tomorrow I look forward to a follow up to the previous “Anchor Points” post that is one that is particularly special for me to write…