Being Too Slow

Today I was eavesdropping on the subway again. It all started out with a very surreal experience, where the couple to my left, and the couple sitting across from me were both paired teams preparing to do canvassing to raise money for WWF. So when I first sat down, I just thought they were talking, but then I realized their conversation was scripted, and then I realized both conversations I could hear were scripted, and THEN at the end of the conversation to my left, they immediately switched roles without any discussion and repeated the conversation from opposite sides, and it was all very trippy.

After a couple run-throughs, the pair on my left started talking about relationships. I switched brain-modes from trying not to listen while I read to half-listening while I read, and it was very interesting because both people totally spilled their guts. The woman had been in an on-again-off-again 7 year abusive relationship with a childhood friend that really messed her and their friendship up; the guy had never dated anyone longer than a year, but this one girl had really gotten into his brain and “cracked” him, leaving him still messed up until last year when he finally sorted out all the circuits she had tinkered with.

It was very sweet to hear about the woman share about her relationship to her husband now, compared to all the brokenness she’d had before. I guess she used to work at a bar in her underwear, which her ex hated because he was jealous and controlling, but her husband didn’t hassle her about it because it was her job and he knew that she was coming home to him not anybody else that looked at her. But she stopped doing that kind of work because she wanted to, because she wanted only to show her body to her husband, to respect him by doing that, even though he never said anything to her about it. The guy thought that was very cool, and he talked about a friend he dated that was a great friend but terrible romantic relationship, and fortunately they broke up in time to save the friendship. He hasn’t dated since last summer because he always goes for broken girls to try and help them, and he needs to get himself straightened out before he can ever hope to help someone else.

When we got to the end of the line, I went to my bus and they went off to raise money I assume, and as my bus pulled out of the station parking lot I was struck by all kinds of things I wanted to say to these two people. I kind of ignored it and kind of let the imaginary conversation run its course in my mind, and I wished that I had thought of these things when I was sitting next to them.

Then God told me to get off the bus and find them at the mall where the bus station is.

And I thought… I can’t. The first stop is a 5 minute drive from here. But we hadn’t left the parking lot yet, and THEN. The driver opened the back doors.

I can’t, I told God – I won’t find them, and I wore heels, and it’s too far to walk across the whole parking lot for some impossible mission.

And God said, “If Matt was lost, or your future child was lost, or someone who you love, and you thought they might be at that mall, would you go look for them?”

And of course I would.

And the back doors opened again – well, not opened, but were engaged with the big green light above them lit to show that if you push on the bars they’ll open.

So I got up and asked the bus driver to let me off before the light changed, and I walked across the parking lot into the mall. And I searched the mall for half an hour, feet on fire by the end, because I needed to tell those people that whatever they have heard about Christians, or whatever they have experienced of the church, that a relationship with God is not about trying to be good or giving up everything that might be fun, or acting any certain way, but it just means accepting that you are loved and wanted and LOVED by God, who made us. And that any change in your life is just something you do because you love God back and want to make him happy, to respect him, to appreciate your relationship. And that the reason it’s so hard to understand and so hard to do is that all of us have had our minds messed up by sin, like bad relationships leave us scarred and scared, and we keep trying to fix ourselves so that we can have a healthy relationship one day, but the truth is we can never fix ourselves. But if we invite God to be in our life and trust him, he can gradually, gently make us new and whole from the inside out.

I realized too late that these people had been telling each other the gospel in the words of their lives.

I don’t know what it means that I never found them – other than I guess they are doing their fundraising somewhere else. Or another day. I felt so bad that I was too slow to think everything I thought and do what I tried to do, but God reminded me that the Holy Spirit is never too late. So for whatever reason, I had this intense experience that left me aching to just tell these people that God loved them.

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