The Kindness of a Stranger
By Michele Wrigley
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1 (NIV)
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Romans 12:1 (MSG)
As a member of the worship team, it is easy for me to think about worship within the narrow confines of the songs we sing at the beginning of our services. Don’t get me wrong, I believe corporate worship is a foundational and life-giving part of belonging in a family of believers. As we worship in song, we are both confronted and comforted by the tension between the awe-inspiring holiness of God and the gracious welcome into His family as sons and daughters, cherished by a heavenly Father and King.
In these times of worship, deep within us calls to the deep within God and we are motivated to live a life worthy of the calling we have received. In a sense, these times of worship set a vision of who God is and who we can become as we yield our lives to Him. It becomes the bridge to true worship, as stated in this verse, laying down our “sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking around life” as an offering to God.
Something happened to me recently which illustrates how stunning this act of worship can be. It all happened in a Trader Joe’s parking lot after a visit to the doctor…
If you’ve ever been in a Trader Joe’s parking lot, you know they are busy places and they have set up their own signs to keep the parking flowing in one direction. When you enter this particular parking lot, there is a sign on the left which says “Do Not Enter.” But the spot just to my left was open! And I thought, I could just whip around quickly and grab that spot and not have to drive all the way around the parking lot. So, already, I’m a rule breaker. As I’m turning into the spot, I realize my car is coming rather close to the car on the right and I think, maybe I should back out and square up? Maybe I can make it? Well, I did not back up and Scrape! Scrape! I dent and scratch the car on the right. To make matters even better, the woman who owned that car was sitting in it. She got out of her car and did not look happy.
I rolled down my window and said, “I am so sorry, this is completely my fault! I’m so sorry, please let me square up the car and I will get my insurance information. This is completely my fault!” I pulled the car into the slot and grabbed my insurance information and got out of the car. At this point, I was trembling. I really felt very bad about damaging this woman’s car. At my doctor appointment, they had put a band on me like you get at the hospital. The woman said, “Did you just get out of the hospital?” “No, I just left a doctor’s office.” “What kind of doctor?” “Oncologist.” “Do you have cancer?” “Not any more! I did have cancer, but my treatments are over and this visit was actually a good visit to let me know that everything looks good.”
And the lovely black woman, whose car I just scratched and dented, looked at me and asked, “Can I give you a hug?” OK, so I probably don’t need to tell you that this is not a normal response in the metro DC area. And she gave me a hug and we were crying and hugging and she said, “If you never knew God loved you, you should know now.” I smiled and said, “You are probably not going to believe this given my behavior today, but I know God loves me, I’m actually a pastor!” We chatted a bit and hugged a few times more and people in the parking lot were just staring at us. After getting my insurance info, she said, “I can’t make any promises, but I’m going to talk to my husband and see if we can just forget about submitting an insurance claim.” I thanked her but said, “Please have you car repaired, that is what insurance is for. I feel so bad that I damaged your car.”
Later that evening, I received an email from my new friend that said she and her husband had decided not to submit a claim to insurance. We offered to pay for the damage directly, but she refused, saying that she had received grace for things she had done wrong and she didn’t want me to worry about this any more.
And then it hit me, I had just witnessed a stunning act of worship before God. This woman had allowed the grace of God to so impact her “sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life” that it positively spilled out of her. And in that moment, my new friend shined; she showed the world was God is like, astonishingly gracious and forgiving. This reminded me of one of my favorite worship lyrics, “Let Your face shine on us so that world will know You live.” (From All the Heavens, by Hillsong – yes, it is very old 😉
Father, teach us to worship You in our “sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life” so that the world will know You live. Amen