The Day I Rolled Down the Window
by John UpChurch
The guy had no teeth on top. Sadly, I noticed that first. His cigarette dangled between gum and lip.
While my wife jogged into Walgreens, this guy passed up dozens of other open spaces to squeeze his red coupe between our Prius and a truck that stuck slightly over the white line. He glanced over at us for only a moment before his window stuttered down and a mud-and-oil stained mitt poked out of the window to wave at my daughters in the backseat.
I confess. I didn’t exactly feel neighborly.
And then the guy began speaking and pointing to our car. I couldn’t hear a word through the glass, but that didn’t stop him from mumbling around his cigarette, which was probably 80% ash. Smiling from the silliness of it, I zipped the passenger-side window down and wondered what would compel him to speak to a complete stranger in a parking lot.
Gas mileage. Seriously.
This random guy in the parking lot of Walgreens wanted to compare gas mileage. At least, that’s what opened the door for conversation. From there, I learned what he did (shoeing horses), found out how his work had hurt his back (bulging disk), saw a picture of his prized new jackdaw (I had no clue either), and realized how much you can love a guy with no upper teeth.
He was real. He had no pretensions, no conceit, no desire to be anything more than he was. You got the raw, muddy man. And, sadly, I would never have spoken to the guy on my own if he hadn’t put his huge hand and ashy cigarette out the window. Sadly, I didn’t want to get messy.
But, really, love is all about the uncomfortable mess—just as God revealed in my life. To Him, I once looked much worse than toothless, much dirtier than mud-covered. But Jesus didn’t care. He saw something through all that muck He loved. And am I ever glad He did.
Intersecting Faith and Life: Love means getting close to people who are nothing like us. God may put people there for us to reach out to that don’t fit our ideal image of people we want to be around. They could reek of smoke, have few teeth, or even champion political views we don’t like. It’s enough to make us squirm.
But there’s one key here that we cannot forget: He loves them. Jesus touched the diseased, dirty, and destitute. He wasn’t afraid of engaging with the unpopular and scandalous. Instead, He specifically sought out those that no one else would. His grace knew no social barrier.
We can’t let being uncomfortable prevent us from sharing that love.
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