I'm sitting in the coffee shop watching an elderly man what looks like apply for a job at Mimi's Cafe (a restaurant here in Colorado Springs and probably elsewhere). He's wearing blue and white pinstripe overalls, reminiscent of a train conductor, over a button down shirt with chevy trucks from the 1940s all over it and sketchers shape up shoes. He has glasses, white curly hair and a white mustache that curls up at the ends.
I noticed his wedding ring on his left hand - and then his wife came over to see him. Her sweet southern voice let him know it was 5 o'clock and that maybe they should go. She walked back over to the cushioned seat to continue reading her magazine, and I glanced at her shoes. They are red, sparkly UGG boots. Something like a 21st century Dorothy from Kansas would wear. I marvel at how comfortable both of them are, where they are, and who they're with.
I've been watching this guy for the last hour while working on a wedding video.
I notice his concentration over the keyboard, typing with one finger at a time. The text on the screen is magnified by 5x at least, probably so he can see it in his old age (I'm guessing mid 60s to early 70s). To his left on the table he has a Spelling Dictionary, which has me thinking why? What is this guy's story?
I don't know for a fact so it is purely inference, but all of this together - his unordinary fashion, his slow moving on the computer, the dictionary, and applying for a position at a restaurant at his old age - makes it seem like he is a simple man; that maybe he isn't as smart or intelligent as an average person his age would be.
God started to break my heart.
What kinds of obstacles has this man been through? What kind of diversity has he faced? What hardships has he endured to be where he is right now? How many times has he been written off? How many times has he been laughed at, judged, ridiculed, dismissed?
But, the one question that summed it all - does he feel loved.
Then God turned me inward. How many times have I laughed at, judged, ridiculed, dismissed someone instead of loving them where they are?
You may say, "Sean, chill. Don't you think you are blowing this out of proportion - especially when you don't know the true story behind this guy?"
But, I say forget the man. The question is - how many times have I done something to someone other than love them where they are?
And the reality is, I have a handful of examples in the last week alone.
The scary part is, I didn't notice them until right now. Until God showed me using an example of someone else's (perceived) misfortune.
I didn't tell you the beginning of this story.
He walked in from outside and stood there a minute looking for somewhere to sit. The long table, which is usually used by people working on computers since power outlets are close by, had one seat open at the end across from a couple in their late 40s. The woman there was wearing a shirt that said "I'm a PC developer." They both had computers and were typing away and conversing about what they were working on. Again, just inference, but by her shirt and their focused discussion on their work led me to believe they were intelligent folks working on an important project like web development or design or something. Their stuff - purse, laptop bags, etc. - was kind of strewn across their side and across the halfway mark of the table. The man walked over to sit in the available seat, and as he stood behind the open chair, the couple glanced at each other and gave disgusted looks as to what he was thinking. They reluctantly nudged their belongings enough to fit a laptop in the empty space so he could sit down and said nothing but continued to work. Quietly the man sat and placed his laptop down, while the husband again pulled his case closer so it wouldn't be touched. The wife frowned a little and scoffed.
I know this reaction. I have done it many times. Instead of offering a seat at the table, I pass unjust judgement.
Why don't I notice this as a diseased condition of my heart? And how many other things do I not notice because I have my head down?
Maybe this man wasn't applying for a job at Mimi's. Maybe he was doing an online survey for the restaurant, and maybe the dictionary was there to look up how to spell hard words like 'baccalaureate', I don't know. What I do know is I fail to notice my sin and neglect to love when God tells us that without LOVE, everything is worthless (1 Corinthians 13).
God chose to wake me up today by showing me through a random person how broken I am. I get caught up in my life and constantly miss the grace that is ever present in every single situation. My plea to you guys is to slow down and think about where you are at right now. Are you aware of the grace surrounding you? Are you acting in love? Are you offering a seat at the table?
Thank God for showing me this today.
Take another 10 and read this blog post I read today that goes hand in hand with mine - http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/lay-aside-the-weight-of-discontentment