Earlier this month I was blessed to be able to get out of our old SUV and into a new car. Modernized technology, better fuel economy, working air conditioner: it was really nice to be ‘out with the old and in with the new’. After many hours finalizing everything at the dealership, Lee and I sat in the car ready to drive it home.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a man waving at us in the dealership’s parking lot. Still focusing on getting the mirrors adjusted and the seat just right, I simply assumed it was someone from the dealership that needed to tell us one last thing about the car. I opened the window, and the young man asked me a question. With a saddened and distressed look in his eyes, he asked if I would call the police because he was seriously thinking of killing himself.
We did call the police*. Our sales rep at the dealership came over and spoke with him (and he was great with the man, BTW). I simply stood in the background, motionless and quiet. I can’t explain why, but I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do nor what to say. I allowed perceptions and ill-conceived notions to cloud my head, and on my way home, I cried because I was ashamed. In a moment of ministry, I slinked into a corner and let others do the work.
If I claim to be a Christ follower, why was it that in that very moment, I did the exact opposite of what Jesus himself would have done? Jesus would have reached out to that man in compassion. I thought only of myself and held back. Jesus would have offered love and understanding. I offered skepticism and cautious hesitation. Jesus would have been fearless (as he always was). I let fear divert me from what He was calling me to do.
We don’t often think of Jesus as fearless. We don’t think of Him as the guy who didn’t concern himself with the opinions of others. You never hear anyone refer to Christ as a badass. But think about it. He really was. He challenged the status quo. He compelled others to think beyond their human limitations, and to act out of love and service for others. He tactfully turned the manipulation of those who opposed him into learning experiences for all. Jesus’ deft way about Him was truly badass.
This morning I was walking into Starbucks, my eyes cloudy and groggy from not getting enough sleep. A man at a table outside the store looked at me and said, “Good morning.” I don’t think I acknowledged him. I remember my first (and selfish) thought being, “I don’t have time for this right now.”
I went inside, ordered my coffee, and waited. Your typical Starbucks routine. As I waited, the image of the man from the car dealership popped in my head. I remembered the redness in his eyes from the crying he’d been doing. I remembered his body language, full of pain and yearning. I heard a voice in my head say, “You DO have time for this.”
The barista called my name. I grabbed my coffee and headed out the door.
“You DO have time for this.”
I turned to the man outside and wished him a good morning. I sat at the table with him and just started talking. I asked him if he’d had breakfast yet (he hadn’t). I then let him speak to me about his recent troubles. We chit-chatted for a while. His name is Ron. He an Italian-German former truck driver who’s apparently traversed Pinellas and Hillsborough counties by foot. He went on to tell me he is a disciple of God. I told him I like to think of myself as one too. Then, as if by instinct, I reached out, grabbed his arm, and we prayed.
Others were walking in and out of the store. I could feel their glances. I could almost hear them think to themselves, “What the hell?” But in that moment, I didn’t care. In that moment, I was obedient to His calling and what it was He wanted me to do. In that moment, I followed Jesus’ example and reached out to a brother in need. I like to think it made a difference for Ron, but I honestly will never know. I can, however, tell you it made a difference for me.
This morning’s experience with Ron was uplifting. It was also personally rewarding. And in many ways, it was very badass.
“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”
–Acts 20:24 NLT
*Lee followed up the next morning with the Pasco County Sheriff’s office and was able to confirm the man had been Baker-acted and taken to a hospital.