Tonight I find myself sitting here in the office alone. I have been telling people all day, “Ok, I’m leaving on time tonight! I have things I need to do. I have to get up early in the morning and go out of town for a few hours. If you need to talk to me, grab me now because I’m leaving on time today!”I had a long day dealing with grants, crisis and other stuff. So, needless to say, I was ready to go. I wrote up my case notes and collected my belongings and I was just about to cut off the computer and my worship CD when it happened. One of my clients (whom I don’t know well) walked in and said those words that I just didn’t want to hear: “Can I talk to you?”
I was so tempted to just blow him off and say catch me tomorrow.” I was off the clock and I had stuff to do. You know time is valuable. I had worked hard (too hard probably). I could easily be justified in going home. But I couldn’t walk away from him. I wanted to but . . .
We sat down and begin to talk. He told me about his day. He was a bit discouraged but hey, nothing life threatening- Nothing that couldn’t have waited until tomorrow. But as he talked, as I really began to listen, the tone changed. It went from idle chit chat to something else.
He is a young man trying to raise two young boys (between 4 and 7) on his own. As we talked, he began to speak from his heart and tell me how tough it’s been and how he is trying to be a good dad- trying to do things right but life is just falling apart on him. He thought that his kids deserve a better life- a better father. He didn’t know what to do anymore. I just let him talk and I gave him my full attention. He talked for quite a while. I asked him a few questions and he just talked.
Whew! He looked up at me with shame in his eyes. It was all over him. He had that look like I don’t believe I just told you those things. I reached out and touched his arm and tears poured out of his eyes and he begin to weep– It’s like he had been holding them in for so long- trying to be the strong parent and role model for his boys- trying to do the right thing or at least what he believes to be the right thing and things just wouldn’t come together for them. I didn’t say anything right away. I just let him weep.
I thought about how many times we pass each other and casually ask, “How ya doing?” but really don’t want a response. I wonder how many times we have encountered someone on the edge of breaking but never knew it because we have things to do and don’t have time to realize that our brother or sister is in pain? I was going to walk away from this guy today because I was ready to go and because I didn’t get much sleep last night.
As he was crying, he said, “I don’t have anyone. I haven’t even talked to my mother in a long time. I don’t have friends cause they are all doing stupid stuff and I had to leave them alone for the sake of my boys. It took a lot for me to come to you but I knew that if I didn’t, I was going to die tonight.” Man, how I felt his pain.
I don’t exactly know why I’m sharing this. Maybe it is just to remind us of the value of people. People need to know you care. How many times have you needed someone to give you some encouraging words or a hug and there was no one there? How many times have you sat and talked with people and wished they could see past your mask and feel your pain? How many times have you talked to someone and you knew they were not giving you their full attention? You knew they wished they were somewhere else? Oh, they may not have verbalized it, but you knew it.
During the business of our lives, we must use wisdom. We must break away and take care of ourselves, get proper rest and relaxation. That’s important, it is. But also remember (maybe this is just for me tonight) that time is valuable, but so are people. Remember, Jesus stopped (Mark 10:46-52) to see about a man that a lot of people didn’t count as valuable. They didn’t want to hear him cry out. They knew he was a beggar. They knew he had problems. But Jesus stopped and because of that, a man who was once blind could open his eyes an actually see life in a new way!
Be willing to stop sometimes. Be willing to listen to the “soul cry” of someone else. You might find out that because of God in you, you can bring light and life (through the Word and power of God) to areas that once were consumed with darkness and the threat of death.
So no, I didn’t make it home on time. But it’s ok. I’m going home now thanking God for His greatness, His grace and His mercy! Then, I’m going to bed!