Can you tell me why I’m here?
Right here? Right now?
Tell me then, why do I want to be somewhere else?
One of those moments happened to me today. You know what I mean. A moment–no, more like an instant–when it was all crystal clear to me.
This is what I’m here to do! Exactly this!
The morning started out with frigid liquid dripping from up above. As if that weren’t enough to deal with, the liquid turned to sleet, blowing and stinging the face as I headed to work. I wasn’t surprised by the snow which followed in the afternoon. Well? It was bound to come. It was just a cold, miserable day.
I wanted it to be a snow day. The kind of day when you would stay at home by the fire, sock feet propped up on the hearth, and an all-day novel on the lap. Naps would, of course, be optional.
It wasn’t a snow day.
After hours of answering phone calls and packaging orders going to such exotic locales as Akron and Pittsburgh, I sent the Lovely Lady home to enjoy at least a couple hours of a snow day. I would miss the fire, but I could relax at my desk until closing time.
He wandered in from the cold, having limped a good way on the icy sidewalk. At first, I thought the fellow was just looking for a place to get warm and would then continue on his trek. No such luck.
He removed his coat and the hoodie inside it, draping them carefully over the piano books behind him. Clearly, he intended to stay for awhile. Ah well. I glanced longingly at my comfy desk chair, just a few steps away, but stayed on my feet and waited to find out what he needed.
He began to talk. Musical instruments. Family history. Stories from his past.
Half an hour passed. Still he talked.
No one would call him a good conversationalist. His brain was damaged in the same accident that gave him the limp, years ago. He struggles for the right word, stuttering it out when it comes, if it comes.
My mind wandered. Could I tell him I was busy? Maybe the phone would ring. Why me? Why today, when I wasn’t feeling well? When was he ever going to head down the street again?
I gradually became aware of the direction his monologue was taking. He has problems. Today. Family issues. Practical things that won’t wait. He doesn’t know what to do.
That’s when I heard the voice say the words. Oh, not out loud. But, in my head, the words came as clearly as if someone had spoken them into my ear.
This is why I’m here. This is why my door is open today. This man.
I must have shaken my head a bit, because the man in front of me stopped abruptly, seemingly confused. When he went on, there were tears in his eyes and a tremor in his voice.
“I just needed to talk with someone.”
This is why I’m here. This man who needs someone to listen to him. Someone who won’t judge his ability to communicate. Someone who doesn’t have a comfortable chair which calls more loudly than a neighbor who is troubled.
With new purpose, I began to listen to the man, paying attention to the details of his dilemma. He didn’t need a solution, and not being in his shoes, I couldn’t offer one anyway. It was well more than an hour later when he left, but his last words before heading out into the falling snow were of thanks just for letting him talk.
While he was in my place of business, two other men came in at different times. Funny thing. Both of them needed the same thing. Just an ear and my attention. It wasn’t completely undivided, but they both got it.
I get it.
For now, I get it–again. Because, I would be lying if I told you this was a new revelation. God uses us to do what He has equipped us for. I have this music store and I like people. I like talking to them. I even like listening to them. It’s just that sometimes, I forget that my task is not simply about what I like, but the task is about what others need.
The trappings of the music store–the instruments, the accessories, even the money I earn in running it–are all simply tools to help me achieve my task.
Two things, the Teacher said, are to be our focus. Two things.
Sometimes the people aren’t pretty. Nor clean. Nor even witty.
This is what we were born for. Oh, sorry. Did I say we? Of course, I meant to say I. This is what I was born for.
But, I wonder…
I remember what God asked that no-talent, Moses (well, he’s the one who said it, not me), when he protested that he couldn’t do the task God asked him to do.
God said, “What do you have in your hands, Moses?”
Moses answered, “A staff.”
God replied, “Use that.”
Right now, I have a music store in my hands. Sometimes I have a computer there, too. I know lots of folks who have other things in theirs. A beautiful home, perhaps. Or, the ability to cook, or build, or clean. Or sing.
This. This is why I am here.
You may have to remind me again someday soon.
“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth.”
(John 18:37 ~ ESV)
“True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written, in writing what deserves to be read, and in so living as to make the world happier and better for our living in it.”
(Pliny the Elder ~ Roman philosopher/naturalist ~ 23-79 AD)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.