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Who I met in the waiting room (Part 2)

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1 John 3:1–2

Remember Mr. Business Suit?

While I waited at an X-ray clinic, a man in a business suit shattered the peace and quiet with a loud cellphone call. I grew incensed and planned to crush Mr. Business Suit with a glare of contempt. But I was called in for my X-ray and didn’t get the chance.

Meanwhile, in Luke’s gospel, Jesus meets a business-suited lawyer who asks, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus’ answer of the Good Samaritan shows compassion far beyond what his listeners were likely to ever achieve or, dare we say, beyond what most of Jesus’ followers will ever attempt?

So what was the point then? Jesus threw open a window for the lawyer to look out beyond himself, to see people through a new lens of love and compassion.

My story continues

In the change room, I was handed a short cotton gown and told, “Keep your shoes and socks on.” I had not planned on this. There was no mirror, but I looked down and got the picture. In place of my smart black jeans, there was now a cotton gown hardly reaching the knee, a stretch of bare legs, and then black socks and black shoes. I looked like a real loser.

Down the hallway I trotted, passing other men and women seated there, similarly stripped of dignity and identity.

After my X-ray, I opened the door to return to the hallway, and there, right ahead of me in a chair, was Mr. Business Suit. No cellphone now. His cotton gown hardly reached his knees and, yes, his bare legs ended in black dress socks and shoes.

He looked up. Our glances met, and the look in his eyes stopped me in my tracks. Where was his bravado? Where the insolence? His eyes said, “I’m scared.” (And not merely from the scary sight of me in that gown!)

Behind his designer glasses, his eyes cried, “Help! Something is happening to me beyond my control.” My contempt and resentment melted away. I felt compassion for him – not enough to pay his medical bills, but enough to wish his tests all turned out well.

Then, down at the end of that hall, beyond the patients lined up in chairs, in my mind’s eye, I saw Jesus! He was standing tall and wide, with a wry smile. His arms extended all the way down the hall, embracing each one waiting there.

And then I saw it as the waiting room to eternity. All of us are there waiting, hoping no one will notice our embarrassing cotton gowns, our bare legs, and our pitiful socks.

Jesus sees us. He looks past our appearance, past our pathetic attempts to impress others and to cover up who we really are. He is beaming at us. He extends his arms to reach down and around the whole hallway, embracing us, his brothers and sisters.

Not that we get it, though. We can hardly begin to understand. Even Moses had to be shielded from seeing God’s face because there was so much love there I suspect he would have been vaporized by the force of it (Exodus 33:20).

The poet William Blake, in Songs of Innocence, pictures the enormity of God’s compassion:

And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love.

Those beams of Jesus’ enormous love and compassion! We don’t get it. Yet.

But we are in the waiting room, getting ready.

Dorothy Siebert, author and former missionary, has an MA in Biblical Studies and now hosts and writes at the new MARK Centre on Pender Island, B.C.

1 John 3:1–2 (link to BibleGateway.com)

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

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