I stood outside the gate looking at a life-size replica of Air Force One. It was bigger than I had imagined. Unfortunately I never got to go in. The exhibit was closed. My drive to Quonset was in vain. All I could do was daydream about being on board as the president.
I confess that I have an active imagination. I can easily see myself in many different circumstances. Like James Thurber's character, Walter Mitty, I can go from being the 46th president of the United States to a World Series-winning pitcher in the blink of an eye.
An imagination is a wonderful gift. It allows us to get a taste of something that we haven't actually experienced. It can be fun. It also can be informative. It allows us to step into another person’s shoes and get a glimpse of what they’ve been through. It is a prerequisite for a compassionate heart.
For example, put yourself in place of Rosa Parks and the injustice she faced as she was asked to give up her seat in December 1955. Imagine wading through the rice paddies in the Mekong Delta in the summer of 1967, in the midst of heavy automatic gunfire.
Put yourself in the place of those standing on the platforms, surrounded by soldiers, and being herded onto trains headed for Auschwitz in the winter of 1943. It is here where the human experience becomes real. It is here, in the broken places, where God meets us.
The world can be unforgiving and cruel. People are hurting. Their pain is real. When God said to love your neighbor, he was asking us to see the world from his perspective. He challenged us to put ourselves in their place, and to imagine loving others as he loved us.
The Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 3, “Clothe yourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience... And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Imagine a world where this verse was lived out daily.
God has called you and me to stand in the gap, to be the voice of truth and reason, of justice and mercy, of love and hope. We can't do it all. Yet imagine if each of us took one small piece and made it our goal for the next year. The world would change, and in the words of the prophet Amos, “justice will roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Just imagine.
God bless! See you in church.
The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church of Westerly.