My wife wears many hats, but one of my favorites has to be her "Genie" hat. Because while friend, lover, support, partner, etc. are all fine and good, there’s only one that provides various objects or food out of thin air for my consumption. It seems I have barely had time to notice that I am in need of deodorant, for example, when "Poof!" another one appears. Hmmm, what else do I need? Something mailed? Gone. More groceries? Ka-zaam. When you’re married, everything seems to magically appear as if I could wish them into existence.
But every now and then, the genie retreats to the bottle, and I have had to fend for myself at the grocery store. Now, I loathe the grocery store. I hate carts and aisles and crowds and coupons and beeps and sales and racks and displays and cans and boxes and lines … Oh, those are the worst. Luckily, most stores have the new self-checkout lines available for me to simply take care of my own needs and allow me to exit as quickly as possible.
Upon my last visit, I found my mentality checked, however. A local man who could have easily been staying at the homeless shelter was checking out immediately in front of me. This particular store had the aforementioned lines but they were all broken, so I was stuck behind this guy and his endless banter with the store clerk. The conversation soon included me, as I was asked my take on football, weather and the like while each item was properly scanned and stored.
I mentioned the self-checkout lines, asking when they planned on getting them fixed and that I missed them, as if they were some ex-girlfriend who had left me recently. The guy in front of me shrugged and turned and simply said, "I prefer to deal with humans."
We all have a trade or vocation. I am a pastor. My currency is relationships. My clientele is humanity. Business is good, so to speak, when I am highly involved with the lives of the people around me. And it was the unkempt, lazy-eyed man in front of me who is better at my job than I am.
"I prefer to deal with humans." I have to admit that I don’t. Many times, I prefer to deal with machines rather than people. Humans are sticky. Relationships are messy and time-consuming. And I am far too concerned about my own self, my own time and my own agenda to have to spend an extra few minutes in lines that involve people with their own needs, concerns and issues.
But the gospel is found in that line. The gospel is found in that man. The gospel is found in maintaining a preference for humans. The gospel is in slowing down. The gospel is in looking up and looking outward. The gospel engages instead of retreats. God prefers to deal with humans. And so should we.