For the past month, our church’s preacher has led us through a series entitled “Wide Awake,” where we have been challenged by the following question:
“How many moments of my life can I fill with the conscious awareness of God’s presence?”
To make the conversation more official, we were asked to share these moments on social media by including “#wideawake” in our posts. Feel free to search Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for a few minutes; I’ll still be here when you return.
Most of the posts are of people complaining about not being able to sleep, so they are literally “wide awake.” Those posts are not related to this subject. The ones I’m talking about are the ones where people noticed God’s presence in their daily activities, or they could sense God’s comfort during a tough time. Some posts were very touching, while others were on the same level as “Got stuck in traffic today, but it gave me time to listen to sports talk radio for an extra 30 minutes. God is great. #wideawake.”
Last week I had a wide awake moment. Unfortunately, I could not take a picture of it and add a sweet filter on Instagram, nor could I summarize it in 140 characters.
I was sitting in Bongo Java in East Nashville enjoying a nice cup of locally roasted coffee and reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, when I looked up to notice a homeless man approaching the door (After further review, I am confident that this man was indeed homeless as opposed to simply being a hipster or a local musician. In Nashville, they all look very similar).
He stopped short of the door and looked down at the ashtray. He took a moment to rearrange all of the plastic bags he was carrying so that he could free his right hand. With this hand he bent down and rummaged through the ashtray to find a few cigarette butts with enough unused tobacco to get the job done. In the same way you would dig through the sand at the beach to find a few good seashells, this man picked out 5 or 6 cigarette butts, put them in his pocket, and continued on his way down the sidewalk.
At this moment, I felt like I should do something. I feel like any decent human being would feel compassion for this man and have the desire to help him in some way. It was cold outside; should I get him some coffee? Should I just get black coffee or should I get him a latte? Maybe he’s hungry – I could get him a muffin or bagel sandwich. Well, what if he is gluten intolerant. That would be awkward. I could walk with him down the street to the grocery and buy him a full pack of cigarettes. Wow, doesn’t that go against everything I’ve been taught about helping homeless people. Yeah, that would be a waste.
In about 3.6 seconds, I debated several other alternatives, but decided to do nothing but return to my book to find out if Jim and Huck were going to get caught as they floated down the Mississippi River.
Looking back, I wish I would have offered to walk with him to the grocery to buy him a pack of cigarettes. In the 3-block walk, I feel like we could have had a pleasant conversation. Or we could have talked about absolutely nothing. Either way, at least I would have done something.
I had a #wideawake moment, and I wasted it. I did nothing. It’s that awkward moment (#thatawkwardmoment – yes, that’s another popular thing with the kids these days) when I felt the presence of God, but I did absolutely nothing. It wasn’t my brightest moment.
How have you recognized the presence of God recently? What did you do in that moment?