Each morning, the walk from my car to the hospital requires me to pass through a busy parking garage. Occupying an entire city block, the first level hosts the convergence of first-time families and garage-seasoned staff. Unsure about the complicated maze of multiple entrances, tall speed bumps, and hairpin turns, guests often creep through this concrete labyrinth unintentionally evoking politely masked frustration of experienced commuters.
When you add numerous pedestrians into the mix, you can imagine, then, the very real need for someone with authority to be present to direct traffic. And that is where Pat comes in.
Each day as I approach the center of this automotive melting pot on foot, Pat dutifully steps out from behind an orange barrier and unashamedly plants himself in the middle of this traffic tumult. With extended arms, he stops the vehicles and ushers pedestrians over the crosswalk. My hearty, "Thank you, sir," and cheerful well-wishes for a good day are always kindly reciprocated.
Not too long ago, I happened to walk through during the morning shift change. The garage was buzzing with staff coming and going and with patients arriving for appointments and procedures. To avoid the passing brush of a vehicle, I would pause and snug up to the bumper of a parked car and then continue toward the hospital entrance. As I approached the familiar orange barrier, Pat spotted me and without hesitation, he confidently stepped into the middle of the craziness.
Exchanging our normal greetings as I hurried by, an unexpected wave of emotion washed over me. As best as I can describe it, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude that quickly evolved into a feeling of deep unworthiness. My scurrying slowed to a slow a reflective amble as this question swirled around my brain. "Why would he step right into the middle of all that chaos just to let me pass?"
Oh, I know it was his job... and this is what he gets paid for... and he does that for everyone... but for me, in that particular moment, his sacrificial act became an oddly personal experience.
Throughout the day, my mind kept drifting back to that encounter. “Why?” I kept thinking. “Why do that for one person? Why not wait for a group of people to accumulate and then allow us to all cross at the same time? Instead, he stepped out into the commotion... just for me. I wouldn’t do that for me. And... frankly... I am not sure I would do that for others.” And in an almost Jesus-opened-their-minds-so-they-could-understand moment [Luke 24:45 NLT], it struck me. Just as Jesus stepped into the middle of our chaos, so we are invited... I am invited... to step out and risk for the safe passage of another.
The apostle Paul explains, “For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and motivates us because we are absolutely convinced that he has given his life for all of us. This means all died with him so that those who live should no longer live self-absorbed lives but lives that are poured out for him... so then, from now on, we have a new perspective that refuses to evaluate people merely by their outward appearances... He has entrusted to us the ministry of opening the door of reconciliation to God. We are ambassadors of the Anointed One who carry the message of Christ to the world, as though God were tenderly pleading with them directly through our lips” [Portions of 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15, 16, 19, and 20 TPT]. Beloved, fueled by Love, we are exhorted to initiate... to come out from behind the barriers and serve by "opening the door" for others.
Graphically describing Christ's initiating Love, songwriters, Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury, and Ran Jackson testify, “There’s no shadow You won’t light up, mountain You won’t climb up, coming after me. There’s no wall You won’t kick down, lie You won’t tear down, coming after me.” More than a have to, Beloved, we get to love with that same relentlessness... “no longer living self-absorbed lives but lives that are poured out for Him.”
The reality is that every day we encounter people lost in the shadows of anxiety, traversing through mountains of confusion, trapped behind walls built to protect from further pain, and paralyzed on a complex jungle gym of lies. And initiating in Love, we get to bear Light into the shadows, to climb mountains with the disillusioned, and to “demolish strongholds and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” [2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV]. We get to “rescue the perishing, care for the dying, weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen, and tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save” [Fanny J. Crosby].
We get to "step out" not just in "God-is-clearly-in-this" shekinah-glory-moments, but also in unglamorous, un-Facebook-posted, and unacknowledged Love-fueled actions of upholding kindness. And as we do, we will discover, “Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter, feeling lie buried that grace can restore; Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness, chords that are broken will vibrate once more" [Fanny J. Crosby].
Oh, Beloved, as we follow the Spirit's prompting to step out, may the words of Eliphaz to Job be said of each one of us. "You yourself have done this plenty of times, spoken words that clarify, encouraged those who were about to quit. Your words have put stumbling people on their feet, put fresh hope in people about to collapse" [Job 4:3-4 MESSAGE]. And may you, "Never doubt God's mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you" [Ephesians 3:20 TPT]. Amen.
It occurred to me that in writing this blog, I have had a number of encounters with God in parking garages! If you would like to read about other experiences, enjoy 3rd Space, Ground Level, Proceed to the Route, and Partial Download.
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