I just got done with a crazy travel adventure that involved three rental cars, unexpected overnight stays, three legs of flight through five airports and a through-the-night drive in order to make my destination. I had a great time ministering God’s Word to a receptive audience, as well as some quality time connecting with some old friends. All things considered, it was a good trip.
During one particular leg of the trip, I was reminded of Jesus’ words to His followers: “And whatever you do, even to the least of these, you do to me.” The “least of these” was a reference to people who were not always looked after in society. Some were prisoners, some were sick, some were probably just down and out; old, homeless or lonely.
As I was changing my tickets for the third time, I walked passed two elderly ladies sitting in wheel chairs right by the ticket counter. They seemed set and taken care of, so I didn’t give them a second thought. When I came back through the line for the fourth ticket change, they were still there, but this time, there was a young woman sitting at their feet.
I didn’t think much of it until I realized she was on the phone, talking to the airlines on their behalf. I found out that these two ladies had been sitting at the desk for five hours (five hours!) waiting to get help with their tickets. Since they were both in wheel chairs, they couldn’t get to the front of the line, and they were both too kind to be pushy.
After five hours, one kind woman who was in the same flight-delaying weather pattern we were all in, asked them, “Do you ladies need any help?” That’s all it took. For the next thirty minutes, she set aside her own travel problems and focused on helping these two elderly women get to their doctors appointments in Boston.
In all the chaos of the moment, I paused to realize: “I didn’t even think once about helping these women.” It’s not that I even could have, but I probably could have helped them get to the ticket counter, I could have created awareness for the airline employees or at the very least, I could have said, “Hi, how are you doing today?”
But I didn’t.
In the focus I had over my own circumstances, I didn’t take the time to look outward and see the circumstances of others. After all, I had a flight to catch (which ended up being canceled), cars to rent and a speaking engagement to make. But at the end of the day, I would have ended up at the same destination, at the same time, through the same crazy route whether I had helped them or not. I’m confident of this: I would have felt better about my day if I had accomplished something productive through all of the craziness.
How often do you stop and pause, and look around at the world near you? How often do you try to engage the needs of others as you are going through life? Sometimes I think I’m guilty of compartmentalizing need-meeting. In other words, I go through my day, and meeting the needs of others is scheduled from 4:15-4:27, and I check it off the list. But what about the needs of those we cross throughout the day?
It reminds me of another blog I wrote about a time I did stop and help out — two homeless guys coming through Salem. Both days were busy. Both days were a bit chaotic. One day I paused, one day I didn’t.
Let’s not get so focused trying to live the Overboard Life, that we forget to actually…live the Overboard Life.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!