Big World

I’m on an airplane that just lifted off from the Cincinnati airport en route to San Francisco.

As I look out the window at the houses sprinkled everywhere among the rich farmland below, I am once again reminded of what a big world we live in.

Who lives in the house below me at the edge of the woods by the curve in the road? Are they retired? Or, is it a family with small children? What type of jobs do they have? Where do they go to church? At this very moment, are they happy? Sad? Stressed? Content? Will I ever see them in my lifetime?

And what about the people in the house over there? Or in the village over yonder?

Of course, I’ll never get answers to these questions … unless God chooses to reveal them to me. Wouldn’t that be funny if one day God said to me, “I was watching you journal on the Delta flight over Kentucky wondering about the people below, and the folks in that specific house you eyed at the edge of the woods were Bob and Agnes Baker. Bob was a retired electrician, but Agnes was still working part-time in the cafeteria at Crestview Elementary. Their only child, Brenda, was happily married to Rick …

Wouldn’t that be funny?

And it’s awesome to think that God, at least as God is perceived by us, knows every human being completely at any given point and time in history. Who can contemplate the mind of God? Who can teach God anything? Who has more power than God?

It’s a big, big world … and I have looked out the airplane window at just a sliver of humankind. Various people of various cultures of various skin color speaking various languages, and each person living in their corner of the world.

Some people we cross paths with momentarily, like the person in the car beside us at the stop light … as soon as the light turns green, we likely will never see them again. Others we see periodically, such as members of the same fitness center. Some we see regularly for a season, fellow members of an adult education class, for instance. And still others will be in our lives for a lifetime.

How shall we interact with those around us? On most days there are dozens, if not hundreds, of people-contact moments. What shall we do with each moment? Be kind? Be stern? Be friendly? Be suspicious? Be prayerful? Be angry? Be instructive? Be playful? Be wary? Be attentive? Be helpful? Be loving? All of these things?

It can all be overwhelming to think about, but don’t let it overwhelm you. It seems to me that God has entrusted each one of us with the stewardship of our own life, and God wants us to be wise about how we treat others and teat our own self. Each one of us gets to figure that out for our own self. We can be wise, or we can be foolish toward others … we can be kind, or we can be mean … we can be selfish, or we can prefer others before our own self.

You and I get to choose — what will we do this very moment?