There was a man that I used to pass on my way into town. His gnarled hands, ever clasped behind him, provided an awkward counterbalance to his unsteady gait. His gaze was constantly focused on the ground, but not because of his bowed back or advancing age.
He always walked alone and always the same stretch of road up a steep hill. Every few steps he would stop and bend to the ground, wincing at the pain in his twisted back. He would carefully pluck each sun-colored weed that lined the path and bloomed through the community sidewalk cracks. He would pick each flower, only to drop it unceremoniously onto the sidewalk. He meandered along, picking weeds bloom-by-bloom, leaving a bright, sunny flower trail behind him.
Without fail, he was immaculately dressed: crisp khakis, long-sleeved shirt with button-down collar, and a dark buttoned vest. His white hair was always perfectly parted and combed.
I always wondered what made him walk, even on the coldest days. What made him iron his shirt every day. What made him care so very much about a few weeds on land that wasn’t his.
I told myself often that one day I would learn his story. One day I would stop and walk with him. I would offer some companionship one day …one day.
Yet I didn’t.
I watched this mystery soul for months. I even prayed for him, but always from the warm cocoon of my car. I never pushed my comfort zone.
So often, I miss the opportunity. So often, I miss the potential within a day.
I fold my hands in my lap; hands that were made to reach out. A moment to speak arises, but I sit, mouth closed. The moment passes. Once again, I turn my steering wheel toward the path of least resistance.
We are all capable of enormous, outrageous love. We are called to it. In John 13:34-35 Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”
Jesus’ command doesn’t mean we have to stop and talk to every stranger, but it does mean we can ask Him to stir our hearts to be willing. We can do the things the Lord whispers in our ear to do, even when they seem out of the ordinary. Even when they seem difficult or uncomfortable.
Jesus, save me from my comforts.
I took that familiar road several months later. The sidewalk was abloom with rows of sunny unpicked weeds. The mystery soul was nowhere to be seen.
Why had I waited to walk with him?
Why hadn’t I moved when I had the chance?
I prayed that one day I might see the man again, and determined that when I did, I would not hesitate.
It isn’t always easy to share love with strangers, but the world desperately needs exactly that kind of love. We are all capable of enormous, outrageous, life-changing love because Christ created us for it. He created us to notice. He created us to move – to walk.
Lord, let our eyes be open, and our hearts be willing. Let people know where we’ve been because of the bright trail of petals we leave behind us.
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