Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Won't you be a neighbor?

John 3:11

Are you one of those people who talks to the TV?  You know, warning the police officer that criminal is waiting just around the corner of that building?  Or cautioning Emeril that you think he's using a little too much bam! in his sauce.  

Or maybe you talk other people who can't hear you, like the phone company as you're reading your bill:  "what?  that can't possibly be right!"

I'm not much for talking to myself, but one thing I do, is talk to other drivers.  I know they can't hear me, but if I'm letting someone change lanes in front of me, I might say, "After you" or if I'm in a hurry, I might say, "Come on, go if you're going!"  I'm never rude, mind you; just impatient sometimes.  And I don't really mean to, it just comes out.  Sometimes I might not even be aware I'm doing it.

I met some friends this evening, and when I was driving home, I was waiting to turn left, along with another car.  (Two left turn lanes).  Normally, the left turn arrow comes before the straight green light, so when the light for the cross-traffic turned red, I took my foot off the brake, ready to accelerate at what I thought was my turn.  But for some reason, we didn't get the green arrow; instead, the traffic next to us, going straight, got a green light.  This meant that if I hadn't been paying attention, and had gone, I could have hit or been hit by the cars on the opposite side of the street, who were going straight.  Fortunately, I noticed I didn't get a green arrow, and I put my foot back on the brake.

But the car next to me took a few seconds longer.  He started out into the intersection, and in the few seconds it took for him to realize, I had time to get worried.  I said something, out loud, like, "No, no, no, no, Wait!" and I moved my hand to my horn, thinking if I honked it, it would startle him into stopping, and noticing that it wasn't his turn.

But before I had a chance to, he realized, and he stopped.  Whew!  And as I drove home the rest of the way, I remembered a time I had actually stopped a woman from getting hit.  My kids and I were walking up our street, and had to pause for a woman backing out of her driveway.  I think she had rather limited vision because of a large tree on one side ~ the opposite side of the driveway from us.  We were just standing there, waiting for her to back all the way out.  She had looked both directions, but since checking up the street, a car had appeared, and she didn't see it, because she was now looking down the street ~ the direction we were.  I don't know if she could have seen that car, with the tree in the way, but it didn't matter, because she wasn't looking.

I saw the car coming, and her backing up, and without meaning to, I muttered worriedly, "Careful, careful, careful..."  And suddenly, she stopped.  Without ever turning her head, or seeing that car, she stopped backing out.  The car went by, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

At that point, she rolled down her window, and told me that while she hadn't seen that car coming, she had seen me.  She saw the worried look on my face, and realized I was saying, "Careful" and based on that, she realized I was seeing something she wasn't.  She almost literally took my word for it.

If I'd really planned on trying to stop her, I would have shouted, or waved my arms or something.  But I don't think I thought I had much of a chance to impact the situation.  I was just instinctively muttering.

The fact of the matter is, we have more of an opportunity to impact people than we think.  Others are watching; others are listening, whether we know it or not.  But how often do we say something?  We don't want to intrude, we don't want to butt in, it's none of our business.  But how many people are missing the peace that you know?  Who do you know that needs the joy that a life with Jesus offers, but doesn't know what they're missing?

Sometimes we can share truth by example; sometimes it needs to be said out loud.   But we do have some responsibility for the people around us.  If God had wanted us to live a life just unto ourselves, He would have had us live one at a time.  So reach out.  Speak up.  Make a difference.  Maybe you'll change a life.

~ "we speak of what we know, 
and we testify to what we have seen" ~
John 3:11

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