especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Galatians 6:10 (NIV)
I learned an important lesson while sitting in my car at railroad tracks, waiting for a train to go by. And no, it wasn’t a lesson about looking both ways before crossing. It was more important than that. Let me explain.
A student at the school where I worked as health services director had become ill and needed to go home. However, his mother could not come get him because their car battery was dead so I decided to take him.
He thanked me several times for the ride and I told him that I was glad to help out. “Any time,” I told him. But my actions said something entirely different than my words.
As we waited on the train – and waited and waited – I mentally began to picture the list of everything I needed to get done that day. Waiting on a train was not on my list. As my impatience increased, my irritation tagged right along.
I began to tap on the steering wheel of my car, faster and faster. I had not even realized I was doing it until I glanced at the student and found him gazing at the frustrated beating of my fingers.
Before I could say a thing, he quietly responded “I’m really sorry that you have to take me home. I’m sure you have a lot more important things to do.” Oh, my heart. Ouch.
And before I could answer him, my Spirit whispered “Nothing is more important than a great opportunity to listen to this child of mine and to share Truth.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I think the Lord is trying to teach me patience with this long train!” I smiled and he smiled back.
Paul could not have known that I would be sitting at train tracks and almost missing an opportunity to share Jesus when he wrote Galatians 6.
My actions had spoken loudly to this young man. I had sent him the message that he was of little or no importance to me in comparison with everything that I thought I needed to get done that day. In other words, I was letting him know that his value to me was, well, of no value.
Would you believe I began to wish that the long train would be longer? I did. Because when I switched my focus from me to my student, I found out his college preference and why; what choices his friends were making and his opinion; how things were at home, and – most importantly – that he had several questions about the Bible.
There are always going to be long lines at grocery stores and yes, long trains at railroad crossings. But rather than sigh and tap my fingers impatiently, I need to look at each and every “inconvenience” as an opportunity to listen and to encourage those around me.
Father, please help me to see every “long train” as an opportunity to stop and focus on those around me who need to know you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
R.A.P. it up . . .
Can you remember a time when you had an opportunity to be an example of a Christ-follower but were more focused on the inconvenience of your schedule being interrupted?
Is there anything on your schedule that is more important than taking the time to simply listen with your ears and your heart to someone?
When your day is interrupted by a long line or long train, look around you at those in line with you.
Take your focus off the immediate situation and turn it to those around you as you encourage and listen.
Galatians 6:10 (NIV) “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Philippians 2:4 (NIV) “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Colossians 3:12 (NIV) “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience . . .”
(For more of Nancy Hughes' writing, check out her blog, Encouragement from the War Room.)