Thank You, Gertrude
O Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You think of him? Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow. Psalm 144:3-4
The Psalmist points out the vanity of man to think that we really are something amazing when like the quickness of a breath or the passing of a shadow the length of our lives is not ours to control. He contrasts our temporary state with the permanence and power of the eternal God who with the touch of his fingertip can topple a mountain He who commands lightning and destroys the weapons of His enemies. Why would a God like this stop to think about me? And yet, the glorious truth is He doesn’t just think about me, He loves me and saves me! The Psalmist ends with describing the exuberance and joy of the person who knows that God, not self, is the accurate focus of life. If vanity says I’ve got all the time in the world, humility says, use well the time you’ve been given because its a gift from the God who loves you! If vanity dictates to think about self, humility invites me to think about those around me the way God Himself does. He who does “rescue me and deliver me out of great waters” (vs7) does in fact call me to do the same. I dare not waste a single breath of this life I’ve been given.
I was reminded of how fleeting life really is, in of all places, the Starbucks Drive-Thru. While I was helping the customer at the window I hear the horrendous sound of crunching metal just a few cars down in the long of cars waiting for their drinks. In a matter of moments drinks were no longer what everyone was thinking about. A man had put his order in and then instead of pressing the brake he pressed the gas and sideswiped the back of the car in front of him and slammed head on into the drive-thru wall. Our manager called 911 as we helped get his car and him out of the drive-thru. I recognized him. He had come through every single day and had ordered almost the exact same thing. He was just in the middle of his daily routine on the way to work and almost lost his life. As the EMT’s arrived on the scene and loaded him on the ambulance I could see he didn’t know what was going on but there was fear in his eyes. I pray for him even now and his quick recovery. In one split second a daily routine became a nightmare. Later on that day a woman ordered an incredibly detailed and difficult drink in a curt manner that caused some of the baristas to feel frustration, me included. It was only when I was talking with her as we were waiting for her drinks that I found out that her Mom had just recently passed away and she had just been to her memorial service. She was looking for semblance of control in her drinks because she could not control what happened with her mother. Life is a breath. Life is a shadow that disappears with the setting sun. The eternal God thinks about the temporal man and yet does not despise him. Quite the contrary, He comes across heaven and earth to reach him. How will I use the breath I’ve been given today? I’m not the Sun, He is. I’m the shadow. But, as Switchfoot says, “The shadow proves the sunshine”. How will my shadow prove the sunshine? Maybe it will be like the young woman who came through today after all this had happened and asked if she could use her free Starbucks Birthday drink to buy the drink of the stranger in the car behind her. I asked her why she would do this. She said she wanted to make that her act of kindness on her birthday. I was blown away. I have had customers pay it forward before, but this was a whole other level of generosity and humility. I told her thank you and wished her a happy birthday then she did something else. She handed me a card with a tip and told me it was for all of us. She had hand written a note thanking each of us for our hard work every day and signed it “Gertrude”. It stopped us all in our tracks. Each of the baristas began to say things like “we sure could use more girls like her in this world”. You know what? They are absolutely right! We could use more people like Gertrude in this world and that’s why we’ve been placed here. What kind of girl uses her free Birthday drink to bless a stranger? You are supposed to get gifts on your Birthday not give them! What kind of girl gives her barista a card? You’re supposed to get cards on your Birthday not give them, right? I don’t know Gertrude apart from this act of kindness but this is a young women who’s shadow proves the sunshine. She has numbered her days and is making each one of them count. In a world of #selfie her #unselfie has impacted my life and the life of every barista in my Starbucks!
Thank You God for saving that mans life today and that his injuries weren’t worse. Thank you for being a comfort to the woman who just lost her mother. Thank You for Gertrude who gave a selfless gift on her birthday that I will never forget. This is what happens when I realize there’s a reason the God of the universe is thinking about me! His focus on me is not so I will start thinking of myself more, but so that I will begin to realize why there’s still breath in my lungs. He loves the people around me and I cannot just assume they will always be there. Time is of the essence and Gertrude reminded me how to use it well!