Confession: I am selfish, proud, rebellious, and unloving. The evidence is overwhelming, but I want to confess a very particular recurring manifestation of all four.
As most of you know, for some time now, I have been without a car of my own. Which is, needless to say, maddeningly frustrating on a daily basis. Sometimes my mother has allowed me to use her car, primarily for work and only when it is convenient for both of us– but most days, I’m taking the bus and the trolley. I dread it for a number of reasons, but one of them is that it seems like every time I get on some form of public transportation, my attention is drawn to someone who is obviously in desperate need of salvation. Girls dressed like prostitutes, desperate for male attention. Grown women devouring trashy romance novels, trying to hide the cover with the raunchy picture of some scantily clad couple in the throws of passion. A girl with some form of mental retardation, literally dressed from head to toe in the trendiest designer clothes, trying not to drool on them, listening to her iPod, texting someone on her fancy smartphone– she had to hold it right up to her nose to be able to see what she was doing. A band of raucous middle school boys talking boisterously about partying and girls, and the little quiet kid, visibly contemplating joining them. An abusive mother with a sharp tongue… loud mouthed “Stiller” fans, reeking of liquor. People with sallow faces and empty eyes, full of despair, deeply mulling over some great burden they’re carrying.
Living, breathing tragedies. Dead men and women walking around, too blind to see how they’re destroying themselves. I felt that familiar, dreadful tug on my heart. The one that leads you to open your mouth and try to talk about Christ the Cornerstone… and watch the builders reject Him. Speak. Love moves you to say something. Compassion leads to action. How can they believe if they’ve never heard? How can they hear unless you SPEAK?!
I didn’t. I felt the Lord pushing me and I said no. I said no again and again and again. Turn up the music, put on your sunglasses, pick up your knitting and look busy. You’re a trainwreck yourself, you’re barely holding it together, how can you tell them how to live? And I watched those people drift away, out of my circle of influence, just as easily and nonchalantly as they’d drifted in. Opportunity passed. Whew.
God, forgive me.
Today, I was unable to sit there and do nothing. I sat across from a young woman with gorgeous blonde hair all the way down her back. At first she just seemed like any other commuter. Probably a student, she had so many bags with her. I turned on my music and picked up my knitting and tried to tune out the world around me. But she kept behaving so oddly. One minute she was talking to the old woman next to her, the next, she was falling asleep. Then she’d slowly take a swig of her Mountain Dew, then she was drooping again, nearly spilling it all over herself cause she’d forgotten to put the lid on. I watched the old woman next to her stare in horror, just waiting to have Mountain Dew in her lap too. She slowly looked up at me, slack jawed. I hadn’t noticed til then that her caked on makeup didn’t really conceal the enormous bags under her hollow, heavy lidded, blood-shot eyes. She couldn’t have known I was staring at her– my sunglasses saw to that. But as she stared through me, my heart shattered.
Heroin. I was sure of it. She was a slave, and I could see what it was doing to her, as she tried to scratch her nose and couldn’t find it. I wanted to grab her and shake her. I wanted to weep and beg and plead with her. Don’t you see what you’re doing to yourself?! Can’t you see how it’s destroying you? Don’t you know there’s so much MORE to life? Don’t you know how much you’re worth to the One who created you? Don’t you know what he did so you could have freedom in Christ?
I couldn’t do any of those things. For the first time in my life, I gave away my Bible. I prayed that she would take it and read it. “This is for you,” I said. She just stared at me blankly and said, “Thank you.” I stuck my finger in Romans when I handed it to her and I placed an enormous dog ear on the first page of Ephesians.
I’m thankful that it wasn’t til I got off the bus that I remembered I used to be her. How, when I know what He saved me from and how much it cost, can I bear to be silent?
Forgive me, Lord. And make me ready for next time. And please, snatch that girl from the grave.