Thursday, April 14, 2011

People Watching and Spiritual Truths

"But God shows his love for us in that we were still sinners, Christ died for us." ~Romans 5:8

I love watching people enjoy themselves, and often wonder what is going through their mind as they’re doing whatever it is they’re doing. I don’t know if other people do this, and sometimes I just have to wonder about myself. But perhaps that’s part of being a writer. I certainly get some good material from people-watching. And sometimes I even learn some valuable spiritual truths.

One day not long ago, I was standing behind two guys at the bank. I’m ashamed to admit I noticed right away that one or both of them didn’t smell very good. While they were talking together, the one closest to me received a phone call. He stepped out of the line, and I glanced at the guy who was now directly in front of me. I could still smell him, and it was almost overpowering. I put my hand up to my face, upset with myself as I tried to inconspicuously cover my nose.

As I watched him, I noticed two contrasting things. His ragged clothes were as filthy dirty as the rest of him, and the smile on his face radiated joy. Pure joy. It beamed from his eyes as well, and I stopped noticing the smell and wondered what he was thinking. He obviously had just finished doing some kind of manual labor. He must have been exhausted. In one dirty hand, he clutched a check. Was he thinking about buying something with his check? Getting home to his wife and kids? Watching a baseball game?

Or had something wonderful happened to him that day to fill him? And I do believe he was filled. No one can fake a smile that generates from your soul. I felt a tug at my heart, and at the same time, I had a flash of a thought. A basic thought that we all know and many of us learned as tiny children. Jesus loves us all. No matter what we look like, no matter the clothes we wear or how clean we are.
"By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." ~John 13:35

It doesn’t matter if we’re dirty, if we smell bad, wear rags, or even if we stand in line trying not to breathe because someone smells bad. He loves each one of us the same. I felt so unworthy at that moment, and yet blessed at the same time. I praised God for his profound love and forgiveness, and asked him to grant me some of that forgiveness for my initial thoughts toward the man in front of me. Then I prayed for the man, too, that he would continue to know joy each and every day. If he doesn’t know God now, I pray that one day soon he will.

"And above all of these, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." ~Colossians 3:14