Calvin and I sat dutifully waiting for our turn to get our haircuts. We came at the lunch hour, so there were several men in before of us on the sign-in sheet. We’d been sitting for about ten or fifteen minutes when a lady, her son, and her baby paid the cashier and headed for the door. Now, for those of you who have tried to maneuver a stroller through a door that automatically closes while trying to hold on to the hand of a 3-4 year old kid, the mental image you have in your mind is probably fairly accurate: leaning over the stroller, with one hand on a stroller handle, the other trying to hold a fairly heavy glass door open, all while using one leg to make sure the other kid doesn’t escape. I’ve been there plenty of times.
Here’s the amazing thing. In a room full of men (one sitting right next to the door), no one moved to help. Once I realized no on near here was moving, I got up, walked across the room, and grabbed the door without trying to invade her space. She thanked me and walked out, trying to keep any eye on one kid and hand on the other. For my part, I sat back in my seat, and looked around at the six or seven other men in the room. Not one seemed to notice anything that had happened. The man closest to the door, along with a couple of others, had his eyes glued to his smartphone. (Full disclosure: the only reason I wasn’t engrossed in my own phone is that Calvin was using it to listen to music. For some reason, he’s been obsessed with Rocky for about a week now and had finally convinced me to download “Eye of the Tiger”. Boys.). The rest of the men were watching ESPN.
These weren’t rude men (to my knowledge). As far as I know they weren’t unchivalrous. They were just distracted. They were blinded to the people around them by phones and entertainment. The fact is, we live in a very distracted and distracting society. But the Apostle Paul commands us, “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober,” (1 Thessalonians 5:6). In other words, pay attention to yourself, your conduct, and the things that are happening around you. It’s one thing to miss a simple opportunity to do something nice for someone. It’s quite another to sleep through life and fail to see God at work or hear his call for you to work. Paul says that we are “Children of light, children of day” and not like those who live their lives in darkness; therefore, we should be on the alert and “encourage one another and build one another up, “(1 Thessalonians 5:5-11). Ultimately, he calls us to be alert because our Lord may return at any moment. Will he find us absorbed in the things of this world, blinded to the truth and the needs of others around us? Or will he find us anxiously awaiting his return and busy about his work?
I like my iPhone. I enjoy going to the movies and watching football. These things can be viewed as good gifts from God to be enjoyed for his glory(after all, if we are commanded to glorify God when we eat and drink, why not in all the other activities of life). However, these good gifts can also be a distraction. They can slowly, subtly draw us in to the piddling away of our time until the day has passed, the light has faded, and we find ourselves groping in the dark for purpose, for direction, for real, meaningful relationships and lasting fruit from our labors.
So, if you are a child of the light, and a child of the day, open your eyes, take in the sights, and look for opportunities to serve the Lord by serving those around you. After all, he really could return at any moment.