“What kind of drink do you want from the machine?”
“Uh, I guess I’ll take a Cherry Coke…”
As I reach the check out register, the cashier always has a quizzical look on his or her face. They always, naturally, ask me, “So you want what with what…” (it’s called, “Searching for words…”)
I tell them simply, “I am a Christ-follower. You know what a church person is, right?” At that they always get a smirk on their face, roll their eyes with the “Not at all interested in THAT” written all over their face. I even add to their description, “When I was a waiter no one wanted to work on Sundays when the church people came in. Mostly rude, demanding people who thought they were something special for whatever reason then they left little or no tip in the end. We coined a saying about them – ‘The longer they pray, the less they pay’ (in tipping that is).”
“Well, we believe what they believe, but we aspire to live out all of the stuff those guys believe – but our greatest desire is to be generous. Jesus was incredibly generous wherever he went, with everyone he was around.”
They smile. They experience it. They get it.
“Jesus walked in an attitude of natural generosity and kindness. If he were here at Best Buy (or Target or Wal-Mart …) I think he would not simply smile at you or tell you he loved you or liked you … he wouldn’t simply say something, he would do something practical to show you his concern or love. So here I am, too, giving you a cold drink to show you God’s love.”
Of course, as I am answering their question as briefly as possible (I answer them a bit differently each time – there is no magical way to respond to people – experiment and see what works for you in your city / locale) they are checking me out. Of course, they aren’t paid to gab! They usually ask the name of my church. I always laugh a bit and say, “Oh you think I was nice to you so you will come to my church – that’s not it at all. I’ll tell you the name of my church, but I serve people with no strings of any kind attached.” That statement really engages people. Often they say, “Now I’m really curious. A place with people like that is exactly what I’m looking for!”
I always carry with me what I call “connect cards” that do have a way for them to connect with us lest we end up being mere ships passing in the night, but this is not advertising to be clear about it. (I feel insulted when people tell me I am advertising by giving others a connect card. Please! If I / we were advertising I would do it very differently to be clear on things! I’m a better marketer than that!)
* Noticing Note 1: Live Like There’s No Tomorrow – Because There Isn’t!
This week I “celebrate” my return from the dead experience. My book The Day I Died captures the memoir of this sliver of my life. Several years agoyears ago, right about today in fact, I died, flat lined for almost eight minutes during a routine surgery that went completely south. Before I bled out following the piercing of my abdominal aorta with two half-inch cuts, I bled for 75 minutes with a blood pressure of 30 over 10. Normal blood pressure is 120 over 80. At 30 over 10, irreparable brain damage sets in after about 10 minutes. After 25 minutes the doctors working on me were aware that I was nothing but a human vegetable – an organ donor being kept alive with a ventilator. At 7:00 a.m. that December morning I was perhaps the most physically fit guy you could ever meet in his early 40s. Two hours later I was a vegetable with a dozen doctors hovering over me, two dozen nurses running about, I had died once, I had bled out my 13 units of natural blood, and 55 donor units had been pumped into me to control the extreme low pressure situation. *
Noticing Note 2: Sometimes It Happens On a Large Scale
Ponder: To quote Jesus as he referred to the man who was building larger barns, “Tonight you soul will be required of you…” “Night is coming when no man can work…” When the Middle East situation flares up the local news usually calls me and a couple of other local pastors for an interview to get perspectives on this. They ask, “Is this the end of all things?” I don’t know why they all keep asking me – I say the same thing each time! “I honestly don’t think this is the BIG ONE. What worries me – what keeps me up pacing at night is this: We are all going to face the same inevitable end at a personal level pretty soon anyway. Really, what’s the big deal about prophecies anyway? Jesus said no man knows these things, not even him. One thing is absolutely for sure though. Every person watching this is going to stand before God and give an account of how he / she lived life. Unless each of us has given our lives utterly to Jesus – to quote Desi Arnez – ‘Lucy, you have a lot of splaining to do…’ Let’s make peace with God – let’s respond to the invitation of Jesus now.” People around town stop me for the next few days and tell me they laughed at the Desi line, but then they all go “Uh, yeah, I get it.” Usually 500 or more new people show up at church the following weekend.