My phone died…and then the strangest thing happened

So, it’s Sunday. Pretty much like any other Sunday, I went to church this morning, and now I’m running errands all around the city–because, yeah I can’t do things in the most logical order. Anyway, midway between trying to find out if this fabulous coat at Marshalls was cheaper than at Burlington Coat Factory, my phone died. Normally, I prevent this at all costs. What is a girl to do without her phone? What will she look at during five minute traffic lights? What will she do while waiting in line at the grocery store? Well, the most magical thing happened. Let’s back up a bit first: I’m not the go-out-and-share-my-faith-with-everyone type of girl. I’m actually pretty terrified of testifying to anything, let alone my faith that I don’t entirely understand myself. So, as I was pulling off the free way and waiting at one of those ridiculous red lights, desperately wishing I had my cell phone powered up and scrolling through Facebook, I noticed a guy at the corner without gloves or hat holding a cardboard sign. He was far enough away that I couldn’t read it, and had today been any normal day when I happened to glance up and saw him, I would have probably concluded,  “he was too far away” or “I’ll hold everyone up in traffic” to excuse myself from stopping. But today, I couldn’t look away. I pulled off the exit and stopped to ask him if he wanted the scarf I was wearing. And he looked somewhat confused and surprised, and just really happy. So, I asked him if he wanted my coffee, because I hadn’t drank it yet, and honestly it’s 30 degrees, dude could use some warmth from the inside, too. And he just looked so grateful. I didn’t know what to do, so in my infinite awkwardness I made sure he wasn’t diabetic since I put an insane amount of sugar in my coffee. And then I was on my way. As I pulled off the curb, I did something I’ve never done before: I said, “God bless you.” Let me repeat that again, I’ve never done that before. And I’m not entirely sure why I did it then, but I did. And that’s the important part. And then things just kept rolling. I talked to a couple at Target who were just browsing the racks, when I probably would have been texting my best friend. I noticed that someone had left coupons in front of some coffee and pointed it out to some women who were incredibly grateful to save fifty cents on good, strong coffee. But the biggest, when I was checking out I actually talked to my cashier–something I also hardly ever do. Instead of texting my best friend, or my husband, or listening to some podcast as I’m want to do, I actually had a legitimate conversation with him. “How’s your Sunday going? Do anything interesting?” “Well, I went to church this morning, and now I’m just kinda running around” Uhhhh did I just say that?  “Really? You don’t hear that too much anymore. I mean, I don’t.” “Really? Weird. Well, you’re welcome at my church if you ever want to come. It’s right up the road at the movie theater.” “Wait, at the movie theater?” “Yeah. They have like three times: 9, 10:45 and 12:30 I think.” “That’s cool. I’ll have to check it out.” “You should! Come next week, I’ll show you around.” And just like that I invited a dude to church. And in my infinite awkwardness, I might have been a little pushy about him coming next week, but whatever. I gave him my number and he promised to call if he couldn’t make it. I want to press again, I have never done this…or dang near anything like it. And it’s all because I was forced to talk to people. I couldn’t hide behind my cell phone screen. I couldn’t pretend that virtual community and interactions could replace the people around me every day. And I think I know why: the people in our virtual worlds are people we’ve picked: our friends, our family, our coworkers–safe people. We have to invite people to have our contact info. They’re safe. We know them. The people in the world aren’t safe, we haven’t picked them, they could be nuts…or they could need us. But if we stick with just the people we know, people we’re comfortable with, we’ll never see the needs in the world, or connect with people that God wants us to help. So, I ask you to please consider putting down the phones, the iPads, the ear buds, and talk to someone next to you. God can never work through you if you cannot see the people he sees, the needs he feels for His people, or hear His voice telling you to do His will. We don’t have to hide.

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