What if I treated everyone I met like they were Jesus?
I woke up this morning thinking it was a normal day. I got out of bed, brushed my teeth, packed my bags, and headed for the car. I was visiting friends at a ski resort and had a 2 hour drive ahead of me. I went to Starbucks, ordered my mocha and spinach feta wrap and was waiting patiently at the window when I had a thought. What if I treated everyone I met like they were Jesus?
A young girl came to the window, "$8.76," she said, as she handed me my coffee. I handed her a $10 bill. "Keep the change," I said, "and have a beautiful rest of your day." She lit up as I pulled away.
Okay, one person down. That wasn't so hard. I pulled out of the parking lot and my eyes met a middle aged woman standing in the cold.
"D E N V E R P L E A S E" her sign read as her thumb stretched hopelessly into thin air.
"Absolutely not," I said out loud in my car. "I am not picking her up." I pushed the pedal to the floor and tried to forget the women I has just seen. I've heard horror stories of hitchhikers and I know picking up random people on the side of the road isn't exactly safe. But what if she were Jesus? .
I pulled off the interstate and began to pray fervently. My conversation with the Lord went something like this:
"Are you kidding me right now, God? This is insane."
"Live your life point A to point C, let me be the B. She's the B. Now go pick her up."
"No. This is crazy. I don't know her or her past. What if she's on drugs? What if she has a weapon? This is probably a set up and she's waiting for me, a naive girl, to pick her up so she can murder me."
"Do you remember the story of the woman at the well? She was an outcast from her own people and no one gave her the time of day. But then our paths crossed. I showed her that she was cared for when no one, not even herself, could see in value in her. This is grace. Be my hands and feet and go minister to this lost child." (John 4:4-42)
The story of the woman at the well teaches us that God loves us in spite of our bankrupt lives. God values us enough to actively seek us, to welcome us to intimacy, and to rejoice in us. What if Jesus had never met the woman at the well? What if God is crossing our paths with lost and broken people for us to minister to and we are actively choosing not to love them because they are outcasts? (1 Peter 2:17)
I'm not saying you should pick up every hitchhiker you see and I'm not posting this to hear how incredibly unsafe you may think this choice was. When you feel something from the Lord, you do it, no matter how crazy it may seem to the rest of the world. (Psalm 121:7)
I turned my car around in full faith that she would still be standing on the side of the road with her arm stretched into the air. Sure enough, there she was. A small, okay... BIG part of me wished she wasn't there anymore.
"I'm not going to Denver but I can get you closer to there than you are now," I said as my voice trembled.
"I'm Kathy. You are my angel. I've been outside since 7am holding this sign and I need to get to Denver for treatment," she said as she got situated in my car. *name changed for privacy
The next 45 minutes felt like a dream. She asked me why I picked her up and I told her I was trying to be better at loving people. She told me she didn't think she was worthy of being loved and I told her I didn't think I was either before I met Jesus. She told me stories of her children and she breathed life into my car when she talked about how proud of them she was. One of her children is in the navy, the other is an artist, and her daughter got married last month. We talked about life - pain and love and how they go hand in hand. I told her I believe pain is just a place brave people visit and she told me she believes pain is a gateway to freedom.
"I have leukemia," she said, "I don't have much time left so I'm doing all the things I always said I would do. The pain of cancer made me come alive."
Tears filled my eyes and I quickly put on my sunglasses.
"I have a bucket list now and I'm learning to be alive. One thing on my bucket list is to figure out what it is I believe in," she said. "I didn't know if I believed in God, but today when I was out in the cold, I prayed for the first time in 30 years. I asked God to give me a safe ride to treatment and then you pulled up."
We arrived at her destination and we prayed together before she got out of my car. We really never know who or what God will call us to each day. It might be the teenager working in the grocery store, the man in the cubicle at work, or the hitchhiker on the side of the road. If we start to treat everyone we meet like they are Jesus, imagine how radically different our world will be.