Do you know why they call today Black Friday ? Legend has it that it originated in Philadelphia, where pedestrian and vehicle traffic made the streets unbearable the day after Thanksgiving. Others say it’s because retailers operate in the red up until the holiday shopping season kicks off the day after Thanksgiving when they finally turn a profit.
We could claim it’s because we’re fortunate to be able to buy Christmas presents at a discount that keeps our balance sheets “in the black.” Or maybe we should say it’s the one day a year you can shop with a significant risk of getting a black eye from a complete stranger. Perhaps given the new pattern of midnight and 2am sales on Black Friday, we could start a rumor that it’s because all the retailers open while it’s black outside.
But, I want to propose an altogether new thought: As you get out and about today, how about reflecting on ways you can show love to those whose souls are black?
Recently, I was unlucky enough to be seated in the center of two people on a nine hour flight back from Paris. I was tired and ready to see my kids. We’d been in North Africa and traveling for days. We had lost a lot of sleep and given our all. My legs were sore, and my back was tight. Our “mission” was over, and I was really tempted to plug my headphones in and watch the movies rolling in front of me. And for a while, I did.
But then, the elderly man to my left started catching my attention. He’d had the arm rest for hours, but now he was fidgeting. He was dropping things and getting up and down. What leg room I had was suddenly being shared. He was, well, interrupting me. I tuned him out.
He started fussing with the tray table in effort to get it to close back on the seat. It would not close. I could see something from the seat pocket sticking up and preventing it from closing.
All of the sudden, I heard the voice inside say, “Do something nice. Show him love. You don’t know what kind of week he’s had.”
So, I helped him fix it, and we went on like nothing happened. I really didn’t think anything of it at all. When my movie was over, I removed my headphones to get up and stretch my legs.
He turned to me and said, “You were just laughing at the movie. I couldn’t hear a thing. It’s so frustrating. We’re on this plane, we have all this time to go, and I am just miserable not being able to do anything. I’m too old for this kind of flying…” On and on he went and I wanted to escape back to the headphones. After all, the next movie was about to start.
I started thinking silently, “Do I share my nice cushy headphones that cancel noise with this old guy and use the crappy ones the airline provides that hurt my ears? Really, God? But, does it matter? Can’t we just pretend he didn’t express his need to me? Can’t I just get a pass after all we’ve been through this week?”
Well, I gave him the headphones, and we watched the next movie. When the movie was over, he handed me back my headphones and struck up a conversation with my husband and me. We talked the final few hours of the trip. Turns out he’s an unbeliever with an incredibly painful childhood. He shared a lot of details with us. My husband told him about the Lord and we explained why we love the Bible and believe it as truth.
I’d love to tell you he accepted Christ. To our knowledge, he has not. Please pray for him. But, as our flight came to a close, with tears in his eyes, he thanked us for getting him through the long flight. He said, “When you helped me fix my seat, I thought how nice that was. And, then you shared your headphones, and I was so appreciative because I could hear the movie and pass two more hours. And, now, to find out you’re Christians… I’ve not had Christians be so nice to me.” Ouch. And to think how much I wanted to escape him just a few hours prior to that.
1 John 5:12 says “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” God shows Himself to others through our love.
It is really easy to view the world as having Divine Appointments only when we choose them. That day, the Divine Appointment chose me. And it interrupted my comfort zone
Please let Black Friday be like that for you. As you make your lists, search for sales, and wait in lines, think of ways to demonstrate the love and light of Jesus in practical ways. When people hurry, push, and complain all around you, take notice. Unlike me, train your mind to think of how you can serve the person rather than avoid the interruption.
Who knows what might happen if we loved like that more often.