I could tell by the way he waited patiently in line the elderly gentlemen had something to say. The funeral had ended, the crowd was exiting, and the family was saying their final goodbyes to their loved one. Finally, we shook hands and the man began to talk. “When Micah was 10 years old, I was his school bus driver. Micah always had something going on. Life wasn’t easy, but he was a good kid.” He looked up and smiled at me. “There’s a story I’ve wanted to tell for a while and I was hoping I could tell it to you.”
We stepped to the side and he continued. “I was driving the bus one day. It was full of kids and noise. Suddenly, I heard the sound of someone throwing up. I looked in the mirror and this little girl had made a terrible mess…all over herself, all over the seat. The other kids all backed away and were just staring at her. She began to cry. The kids began to laugh and hold their noses. I couldn’t stop, so I did the best I could to quiet them and comfort her. The bus grew silent except for an occasional giggle or whisper, and the sound of her tears. And then I felt a tug on my sleeve. It was Micah. ‘Mister, he said, if you’ll give me a paper towel, I’ll help her clean up a little.’ I reached down and handed him the roll of paper towels from the sleeve on the door. Micah took the towels and walked back down the aisle.”
The man shifted his weight from one leg to the other and looked me in the eye as he continued. “What happened next, I will never forget. I only got to see it in snapshots, flashes, as I looked up into the rear view mirror, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Micah went back, got down on his knees and began to clean up the mess. Every few moments he would bring the dirty towels up and put them in the trash basket by the door, and then go back and start over again. Finally, when the mess was cleaned up the best he could, he wiped her face and said something to her. I don’t know what he said, but she smiled.”
By the time he finished, tears were streaming down my new friends cheeks. We hugged each other the awkward way strangers do when they realize they’ve just experienced something special together. I thanked him and promised to tell the story. Amazing, isn’t it, how one act of kindness endures for 22 years? How snapshots of grace keep their brilliance over time.
A couple of thoughts:
First, my friend Micah was a lot like Jesus that day. When the rest of the world backs away; Jesus steps in. When the rest of the world is frozen and doesn’t know what to do; Jesus knows exactly what to do. When the rest of the world holds their noses; Jesus holds our head. When the rest of the world whispers and laughs; Jesus speaks peace to our soul. When everyone around us recoils from the mess we’ve made; Jesus comes to clean it up. When we find ourselves exposed, sick, humiliated, and alone; Jesus covers us with grace.
Secondly, the mental snapshots you and I create today will last. Whether they are pictures people see of us whispering and holding our noses recoiling from someone who’s hurt, or kneeling down and serving them, the memory will last. You can criticize or comfort, but know the pictures will last. Someone is always watching in a rear view mirror. What do you want them to see?