Waiting in Line at the Bank
I’ve always been perplexed by social status. Why do we humans elevate some people and not others? There can be many factors that influence one’s place on a social totem pole: fame, wealth, abilities, beauty, personality, title, heritage, etc.
It was probably during high school that I first noticed the various ranks of popularity, but well into adulthood I continue to notice that the crowds unanimously part for some, and collectively ignore others. We rank ourselves, putting some first and others last.
In the first year following my move to a big city, I foolishly made the mistake of visiting an ATM on a Saturday. On my way to meet a date I was hoping to impress, I took my place in a long line of impatient people who needed cash for their weekend. Lost in thought, I didn’t immediately notice the growing commotion at the front of the line which was at least eight people deep. A sob and a curse word caught my attention, however, and I became aware of a stringy-haired woman fighting to contain her emotions and complete her transaction. I stared at the woman, and then looked down the line at the people in front of and behind me. Everyone avoided eye contact, and politely (or just plain impatiently) ignored the woman in crisis. The lady cancelled her transaction, then turned to all of us and said, “My father just passed away.” It was less of an apology, and more of an explanation. When she received no response, she turned, still crying, and headed into the parking lot. I looked around for someone to help, thinking that someone really should do something. To my disgust, it dawned on me then that the reason my own feet stayed firmly planted was that I didn’t want to lose my place in the growing line.
How often do we prioritize our own agendas over loving people the way Jesus calls us? How often do we ignore those who are precious to Christ because we superficially determine their value? In that moment at the ATM I had somewhere to be and someone I was on my way to impress. This woman was no one to me, and I selfishly felt that I had no time to give her. But Christ doesn’t call us to serve Him only when it’s convenient. He doesn’t ask us to serve only those we deem worthy of our attention. He will flip our priorities upside down—from the prom queen to the porn star, or the addict to the athlete—and declare that despite our shallow labels, the first will be last and the last will be first.
The grieving woman was now struggling to unlock her car, and I felt myself running toward her. She had become my priority as my heart filled with compassion for her. At her look of surprise, I genuinely offered, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Her face crumpled up all over again and she sobbed while I hugged her. She calmed after a minute and quietly thanked me before she climbed into her car and drove away. I turned back toward the ATM where the crowd of people busied themselves with their cell phones, actively ignoring me.
And I took my place at the back of the line.
Life.Church Creative Media Team (Spouse)
“But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”
Matthew 19:30 NLT