I want to tell you about the most important thing I did today.
It wasn’t the time I spent this morning preparing a talk for a conference I’ll be speaking at in a few months. It wasn’t the prayer meeting I attended with other New York City pastors. It wasn’t even the time I spent reading the Bible.
It would have been easy to miss, really. It certainly didn’t seem important. It wasn’t flashy. There weren’t any paparazzi snapping photos. If I didn’t write about it now, only a couple of people would know anything about it.
This morning I was running a little behind. I finished my coffee quickly, leaning forward so I wouldn’t spill on my shirt. I grabbed my bag, locked the door, and jogged down the stairs to the street.
A block ahead I saw a huddle of children wearing Spiderman and Hannah Montana backpacks on the corner, just a few feet from a huddle of moms and dads holding coffee mugs. One of the moms waved at me.
“Oh, I didn’t even see you!” I said, “Where’s Trayvon?”“He’s right there waiting for the bus. Camp today,” she said.
I know Trayvon and his mother from our church. I didn’t have a ton of time, and I could have waved to Trayvon and moved on. But I stopped and spoke with them for several minutes. We caught up about how he did on his state exam. I spoke with Trayvon about how tall he was getting and about paintball. A number of men from church play paintball from time to time, and Trayvon is fascinated by the stories. He’s not quite old enough to be shot at (it hurts!), but he’s almost old enough to try shooting at targets or something. And he wants to badly.
That was it. That was the most important thing I did all day. Pretty insignificant, right?
I’m not so sure. You see, there are only two things in life that last forever, really. God is eternal, of course, so whatever matters to God matters forever. And people are eternal. God designed us to live forever. So anything we do for people matters forever; everything else is temporary. All the achievements, titles, possessions–I’m not so sure we’ll think much about them on our deathbeds.
Trayvon is forever. His mom, too. And you. And while even the wealthiest, most powerful, most famous people alive are insignificant next to the Creator God, to Him, we are worth the precious Life of Christ. Only God makes men matter.
I was actually really excited to see them. I’ve gotten to know Trayvon over several months. His mother is a dedicated, hard-working single mom. She juggles a career, baby-sitters, after-school programs, friends, and family to make sure Trayvon is well-instructed and parented. Several months ago she mentioned that she had a one-hour gap in his schedule on Tuesdays that she was trying to fill. I thought, Well, I can hang out with him for an hour. So began our weekly appointment at Beans & Vines, a local coffee shop. We’d play chess on my phone or look at his homework. If the weather was nice, we’d go to the park and play with a radio-controlled car. One time I showed him what happens if you drop a pack of Mentos into a 2-liter bottle of soda. That was a big hit. If you don’t know what happens when you drop Mentos in a 2-liter bottle of soda, you should try it.
Sometimes we talked. Sometimes we even talked about important things. I remember explaining to him the word reputation–what it is, how it affects you, how difficult it is to earn a good one, and how easy it is to earn a bad one. It’s a powerful concept.
One day, after months of this, I was on the street chatting with his mother and he was off playing with potato gun I bought him from the dollar store (you jam the tip into a raw potato and it shoots the plug about ten feet–perfect for knocking down toy soldiers). She mentioned that she was finally getting around to changing his name. I didn’t think Trayvon was listening, but he spoke up. “Can I make Travis my middle name?”
I laughed it off. “No, you goofball, you’ve already got a middle name, and you’re gonna want your mother’s last name.”
But later, when I was at home folding laundry, I started weeping. Are you kidding me? I spend an hour a week with this kid for a few months, and he’s ready to take my name? That’s all it takes?
I’ll tell you what spending a little time chatting with Trayvon is: it’s significant.
So here’s the question: What’s stopping you from doing the most important thing you’ll do today?
You could send a text message to someone, thanking them for something or telling them how much they mean to you. Haven’t we all received a note or a word at some point that gave us what we needed to take one more step? What if he or she is needs a note like that right now? Maybe you should take a moment to pray for someone. All it takes is a phone call or an email to set up a coffee date.
Unless you think it wouldn’t make a difference. Unless a little thing like that is just too insignificant.
What else could be stopping you?
Chris Travis is a pastor and author of the new book, inSignicant: Why You Matter in the Surprising Way God is Changing the World. Visit the Patheos Book Club for more conversation on this book.