As I was driving to work this morning, I happened to turn on the radio to a particular Classic Rock station as three DJ’s were discussing their colleague’s final seconds as a broadcaster. After a lifetime of radio, he was about to go off the air and into retirement. The conversation was accompanied by some laughs, words of appreciation, post-career plans, a final word of goodbye; and then his friends cued up “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen. As I listened for that brief moment, I realized that I knew nothing about this DJ or his history, but I felt privileged in that moment to have turned on the radio, and be part of the audience that heard his farewell address. I had no context, no familiarity with his lifetime of work, but I could appreciate the importance of that moment in his career.
You and I meet people every day whose stories we do not know. We have only a brief moment to interact with them, and then we move on. Perhaps it is a barista at the local coffee shop, or a spectator sitting beside us at a sporting event. Occasionally, these chance meetings afford us the opportunity to make a new friend, to take one more step, to arrange for a get together. Next week, I am having lunch in Inglewood with a pastor in our Presbytery that I’ve always wanted to get to know. I’m looking forward to hearing his story and more about his family. The other day, my wife Lisa was at a cooking class and happened to be paired with a woman with whom she had several things in common: her husband works for Medtronic who makes the insulin pump I wear as a diabetic; they discovered that they shared the same Christian faith, that they both recently had breast cancer, that both are counselors, and that both enjoy cooking. It was uncanny and it seemed like a God-given opportunity to make a new friend.
Such opportunities don’t come everyday, a chance to take the next step and turn a brief meeting into a genuine contact or friendship. But we can still treat even brief encounters with reverence, whether they be at the market or a cooking class, in a crowd of spectators, a gymnasium, or yes, while listening to a radio broadcast. We can give thanks for that person, we can speak a blessing over them in Jesus’ name, we can be kind and courteous, we can look them in the eye and show that we genuinely care and, if given the chance, we can listen to their story, and hear about a few of their “glory days.” In time we may even be privileged to share with them our faith story, as I had the opportunity to do tonight at our church’s Int’l Student Fellowship, sitting with several new friends from China whom I had never met.
When we treat chance meetings with reverence, we are recognizing the holiness of each moment, and the sacredness of each person we meet in the eyes of God who knows the beginning from the end, who cherishes all our glory stories, and who promises to be our dearest Friend long after we have “signed off” and said our goodbyes, for “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28: 20). Hope to see you soon…