Thoughts From Toby

I had an interesting encounter at the gas station a couple weeks ago. I got out of my pickup and, as I was walking up, noticed a couple of guys sitting at a table somewhat near the entrance, their bikes with some (maybe all?) of their belongings parked nearby. I made eye contact with one of them, smiled, and said, “Good morning.” The man’s eyes lit up, and he started saying something fairly softly. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, so I replied with, “What’s that?” What he said next struck me. He said, “I’ve been here all morning and you’re the first person who has acknowledged me, and I just wanted to say that I appreciate it.” I don’t remember my exact reply to that, but I think I said something like, “Oh, of course, man!” As I left the store, I made it a point to look at both men and say, “Have a good day,” which was met with a smile and a nod.

A couple of thoughts stirred in my mind and heart as I reflected on this brief encounter. For one, I am certain that I have been guilty of walking by people, maybe even these very guys, without acknowledging them. It’s just so easy to focus on our own stuff, even the simple act of getting gas, without noticing the people around us. And yet I’m challenged by the way that Jesus, whose mission was of utmost importance, took time to notice and acknowledge people. People are Jesus’ priority, and I am constantly being challenged to be more like him. Another thing that struck me was the guy’s humble expression of gratitude. I don’t think I “made his day” or anything like that, but his words spoke deeply to my soul. We all have an innate desire to be noticed, to be seen by others. As I contemplate the way that God sees, notices, loves, and desires to be in relationship with each and every one of his beloved children, I am struck by the fact that every human being is worthy of being seen, noticed, and loved. This brief, sincere encounter with a guy at a gas station has caused me to consider the power that is in the simple act of acknowledging people. I don’t know about you, but I’m challenged by that.