An odd thing happened to me yesterday evening. I had just dropped my daughter and her friend off at soccer practice, and headed over to the nearby Starbucks to write this blog.
After getting my chai and a cookie, I settled down at a small table (big enough for 2), powered up my computer, and said a little prayer, “Lord, what am I to write about?” I’ve been reading through Isaiah, and thought I’d expound upon one of the verses that always brings me up short. As I began doing a little research on that verse, I noticed a young man and woman in their 20s arrive and put their drinks on the table next to mine.
Then the woman brought her small laptop over to my table, set it down opposite mine, and reached underneath my table to access the electrical outlet. I thought it a bit odd that she didn’t do the usual thing…ask me if I minded…but it was no big deal. She went over to their table, and then the young man came over to my table, opened the computer, and began to use it, without saying so much as a word to me.
I glanced around the cafe, and saw that there were a number of empty tables near outlets; why had they chosen mine, invaded my space, and not even been in the least bit apologetic? I have to confess; the thought did cross my mind that perhaps there was a hidden camera somewhere, and I was being filmed for Candid Camera or America’s Funniest Home Videos. Then I said to the young man, “Do you need this table?” He said, “No, no, I just need to look something up.”
He then spoke to his companion in what sounded like Russian. Ahhh, I thought. They’re from a different culture. They don’t realize that their behavior is considered rude here. He sat there quietly for probably 10 minutes, just focusing on his computer. He wasn’t really annoying, just awkward. I couldn’t focus on my writing, no matter how hard I tried. Then he closed up the computer, and the two of them left.
I sat there afterward, wondering what Jesus had meant to teach me. I had asked Him what to write about, and He had promptly delivered a rather strange situation. Then I began to think about how the young man had invaded my space bubble–that invisible space around us that we prefer to keep free of other people, their cars, their computers, etc. Some of us have bigger space bubbles than others…we can see that in traffic, and when we’re standing in lines. Have you ever stood in a line in a fast-food restaurant behind someone who has such a huge space bubble in front of them, that you want to skirt around them and occupy it, because they simply won’t MOVE UP?
When Jesus was on this earth, He didn’t have a space bubble. The crowds pressed in on Him wherever He went, so much so that the woman who had had a hemorrhage for 12 years had to work hard to get close enough to Him to touch the hem of his cloak. Jesus was so compelling that people wanted to be near Him, to bathe in the love that emanated from Him, to gaze into His magnificent eyes, and to gain His undivided attention, if only for a moment.
And if we consider that if we have Christ in us, we then have that same love emanating from us, that same light shining through us, that same compelling “something” that people are attracted to. In this world, it is dark with sin and getting darker, and like seedlings stretching upward to find the light, people who don’t know Jesus must sense Him within us. We must welcome the presence of others, even if they don’t know why they’ve chosen to sit near us, or at our very table.
I’ll admit, after I considered my response to the young man and woman, I felt ashamed. Why couldn’t I have met them with a smile, hoping that Jesus was shining through my eyes? As Christians, we have no room for space bubbles. We can’t afford to hoard our personal space when others are dying around us for lack of someone to point them to Christ.
Lord, let me remember that it isn’t me whom people see, but You shining through me. Let me be a beacon for those who are walking through the dark, and looking desperately for Your light. Let me be the one who points them to You.