This week I took a couple of vacation days for a quick trip to Denver. My daughter had some things in a storage unit there. We flew in, rented a truck, loaded up the stuff, and made our way back to Kansas City. The trip in itself is a story, as our plans were threatened with the heavy snowfall that started in Denver on Tuesday night at about 11:00 p.m. We had planned to stay with Ronda's sister and drive back on Wednesday, but headed out at 5:30 p.m., making it to Salina at about 1:15 a.m. Heavy fog for quite a bit of the drive on Tuesday night, but nothing compared with the wind on Wednesday. I have a new appreciation for those who drive trucks for a living.
Someone was scheduled to pick me up at the airport in Denver, but that didn't work out. So, learning of the predicament and walking off of the plane, I quickly installed the Uber app on my phone. Within five minutes I was walking out to meet my driver and head to my destination. My driver was a young man, and he shared that he was from Tajikistan, and had moved to the U.S. about four years ago. He was surprised that I knew where Tajikistan was. I asked what brought him to our country, and he said, "The American dream." I asked, "What does that look like for you personally?" He talked about jobs, opportunity, and freedom.
He asked what I did for a living, and when I told him I was a pastor, that opened the floodgates. "Oh! I have questions for you!" Mostly, he wanted to know more about Jesus. He was confused, because we call Jesus the Son of God, but also call him God, among other things. I asked about his faith background. Growing up under Soviet influence, he didn't really have much of a faith background at all. But in recent years, he had turned to Islam, and found his faith important to him as he has married and is thinking about starting a family.
We talked quite a bit about the things we share in common. I told him, "You know, you are my brother, because we both have our roots in Abraham." He said, "I know that, and you know that! I wish other people knew that."
Now, there isn't a dramatic tale of conversion to be told here. Just one of friendly conversation, respect, listening, and questions. I recognize that very few encounters trend in the direction of such significant sharing. Few do. I also realize that interactions between humans can quickly move in a less positive direction. I've had more than my share of those, and I'm fairly certain that I've been at fault many times. At the same time, every conversation has the possibility of becoming something more. Every person, created in the image of God, has a story to share. One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes reminds us,
"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit- immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously- no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption."
I often wonder what the church might be like, if the people of God lived with holy expectation. What might happen if we looked for and expected the image of God in others? What might happen if we saw each moment as an opportunity to participate in the Mission of God?
In Christ's Love,
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