An Act of Kindness
On a bus from Paris to Amsterdam, smelly, starving, wearing dirty clothes, and rocking an unkempt travel beard, I resembled Elijah during his cave hiding period—the main differences being that Elijah seemed to have a more conversational relationship with God and more patience. I was at the end of a more than three-month journey around Europe; the only things separating me from my home were the rest of this seven-hour bus ride and a flight across the Atlantic. Unfortunately, I didn't think I could wait.
I was so tired of traveling! My thinking became consumed with the ideas of a hot bath, a warm bed, and home-cooked food. I was growing more negative by the moment as I thought about how soon my flight left after my bus arrived and how difficult navigating the airport would be. This negative perspective was making it difficult for me to keep a clear head--the most important thing to have when traveling alone.
At this point, my bus had stopped at a rest point for people to stand, walk around, use the restroom, and grab dinner. Out of money and with prophetical knowledge that if I left the bus to use the bathroom it would inadvertently leave without me, I had steadfastly chosen to remain seated, tightly gripping my valuables. That's when a woman from the seat a few rows back tapped me on the shoulder, pushed a McDonald's bag into my lap, and said in a thick Dutch accent, "You hungry."
It was such a surprising encounter that I immediately stopped thinking about all my concerns and started trying to process what was happening. I hadn't even thanked her as she turned and started back to her seat. It happened that quickly. The whole situation was so bizarre that I kept trying to work it out in my head like a math problem. My appearance, my attitude, and my demeanor toward the world and the bus I was on just did not seem capable of adding up to this woman's act of kindness. For the first time in hours, I felt myself smiling.
In a thirty second span I went from wishing that I could pull an "Elijah" and have a burning chariot and whirlwind take me to heaven to enjoying the remainder of my bus ride and knowing that I would make my flight just fine. Like Elijah—when he was fed by the woman who had only enough food for herself and her son, or when he met Obadiah, who had secretly been hiding men of God when they were being persecuted—I learned how big a difference an act of kindness can make.
There's no telling the impact we have when we do something thoughtful, considerate, and kind—like feeding the hungry, even holding the door for the person behind us. But, we can be certain that it will make a difference.