Monday was a day of dual deadlines for me. My first doctoral paper due and taxes to do. Sometimes I am amazed at what I find to stress out about. How little these looming little pressures are compared to what others are going through in the world. It was only late in the day that I learned of the horrifying news of the twin bombs at the Boston Marathon.
In the morning I took my wife’s car in for some repair. I sat in the customer waiting area with my laptop in my lap trying to meet deadline number one: doctoral paper. I was focusing on the significance and need for transcendence in the world today and how we can offer it in our daily lives. But I was not feeling very connected to transcendence. I was feeling very tied to the material world of deadlines. As I was trying to edit page one, the elderly fellow sitting across from me starting trying to talk to me. I let him run on for a minute before I cut him off, “I’m sorry. I have a deadline to meet.” He politely smiled and stopped talking.
I bore down on my task. With each person that sat down the talkative gentlemen attempted to speak. He was met with polite smiles before being ignored once again. The fellow next to me pretended to be asleep.
After about an hour I finally finished my paper. I hit save, shut my laptop, and smiled. I got up, poured myself a cup of coffee, and sat down across from the stifled man. I said, “I’ve been working on that project since January. Glad it’s done.” He said, “Do you work for yourself or a company?” I said, “Neither. I work for the Lord,” which seemed only somewhat true at the moment. The “sleeping” fellow beside me snickered.
Then the old man launched into a bizarre account of all the Lord had shown him and told him. He was so glad to have an audience. Without going into all the details, he told me of the Korean War, meeting his wife for the first time (she had a cast on three limbs), getting married in Jerusalem, the woman who had a stroke that he was caring for, his work in Cairo, and his career building churches.
He told me that the Lord had showed him a land that would be his someday. As he told me this bizarre testimony his face was shining like Moses coming down from the mountain. He described it in great detail to me. He was always on the lookout for it. One day he thought he had found it, but Reba McIntyre bought it before he had a chance. He’s still looking for it, but knows he will find it in due time. No doubt.
Talk about connection to transcendence! This fellow had more connection to heaven than earth. I just smiled and nodded, thinking that working for the Lord was a strange business. My wife’s car was ready now and I got up and continued on my way leaving crazy old Moses to tell his stories to whoever sat down next.
My second completed task of doing our taxes was more dramatic than I expected. First let me say that it is rare that I wait until the last day. But due to circumstances beyond my control I had to wait. I clicked the final button on Turbo Tax and a message came up that due to one of the adoption related forms I was using that I could not file electronically. I would have to print it out and mail it. It was 8 pm. Uggh. Print it, stuff it, and stamp it. Off to the post office.
Not too many years ago there would have been a line at the post office on tax day, but not any more. I was the lone idiot. As I was trying to figure which chute to throw the envelope down, I heard a trembling voice say, “Sir, I need to get back home but I am not sure which way to go. Can you point me in the right direction?” I was still focused on my envelope. Finally I tossed it in the metered slot with best wishes. I looked up to find an elderly woman looking confused and scared.
“Can you help me, sir?” she said again.
I asked her where she was going and she told me she needed to get back to Briley Parkway. I said, “Just turn right out of the parking lot.” She still looked confused. I pointed right. Still confused.
She said, “Could I just follow you out of the parking lot?” I smiled wearily and said, “Yes.”
I pointed my car out to her and told her that she should follow me out, I would have to turn left pretty soon, but that she must continue going on for a few more miles. I started walking to my car and I realized that she needed something more than that. I went back to her car and asked if I could pray for her first. She nodded. I asked for her name. “Faye.” Then I prayed. She looked up at me with frightened eyes.
We turned right out of the parking lot and after a few blocks I had to turn left. She followed me instead of going on. Uggh. I pulled over and she did likewise. “Ma’am, you were suppose to continue on.” She looked at me and said, “I’m just so scared.” I assured her that she would make it home, but I was not very assuring. She followed me back to the road and we both turned onto it once again. She continued on her way this time. I shook my head and lifted another prayer for her, thinking once again what a strange business it is to work for the Lord.
I came home, sat down in front of TV with my wife, and watched the disturbing footage of the day hoping that God cared for people better than I did. He assured me that he did and that crazy old Moses will make it to his promised land, frightened Faye will make it home, all the Boston Marathon runners will cross the finish line, and someday I will realize that God’s life begins when our deadlines are done.