It amazes me how God can use the most mundane things to expose a person’s heart. Or in this case, the hearts of three people.
It was about 6:30am when I jogged up on them. Three workers (with out-of-town plates) standing in the middle of the street puzzling over something they had never seen before. Right there, in the middle of the street, was a blue road reflector permanently glued in place. I obviously met them after they had already been deliberating a while.
“Why the ___ would anyone put it here?!?” Queried the smaller one. The second, a gaunt man who looked like he needed a third cup of coffee just stared. Finally, as I jogged past, the larger man — the only one wearing his company’s uniform — declared, “Public Works employees can sure be stupid! This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. What a waste of adhesive.”
Judgement? Really, sir? I found it interesting that he felt it necessary to take a verbal swat at the workers who put it there. Apparently it never crossed his mind that they may have done it on purpose — that is was part of a bigger plan? Those of us who live in Central Florida know exactly what these blue reflectors are for — and we’re grateful for them. If any of these three men had just looked further up the street, they may have noticed that there were two more blue reflectors before the next stop sign. Or if the big, judgmental gentleman had just turned around, he may have noticed that, not three feet away, was a matching blue mark on the curb right in front of a fire hydrant. You see, the blue reflectors are in every neighborhood here so that the Fire Department can quickly locate fire hydrants in case of a house fire or other fire emergency. They are in the middle of the street so that they cannot be covered or blocked by parked cars. It’s an easy and ingenious system.
Why is it that we so often jump to judgement about things we do not understand? It’s because we think our knowledge is better or higher than others. In this case, the big man disparaged the city workers who were following the County’s design because his “higher knowledge” could not figure it out so it must be “stupid.” Self-superiority is a dangerous thing. It exposes our hearts. It wounds relationships. And it plagues all of us from time to time.
The rest of my route had me pondering this lesson. I thought about a couple of recent times when I too had called something “stupid” that I did not understand. Of course, in my case I was right. (Just kidding!). What’s worse, however, is when our lack of knowledge leads us to disparage someone. I must admit, the big man’s jump to criticize our Public Works folks surprised me. It exposed something deeper in his heart. Humility is a good thing — and it appears he needs a good dose of it. When we see people and their roles as inferior, “less important” or less intelligent, it changes the way we relate to them. From a Christian standpoint, it can be (and often is) a gospel deal-breaker.
The next time I cannot figure something out, I’m going to glance up the street and look behind me for obvious clues. If I still can’t deduce the purpose, I’m going to ask a “local.” Most of all, I’m going to work hard not to put relational obstacles up in the way of my witness and service. How about you?