The other day, I was working at the Hospitality Center for Chinese. I had come in that morning to help coordinate some moves for later in the week. I felt overwhelmed being unable to get in touch with the people I needed to while other people were cancelling or rearranging their current move times which required me to get in touch with the people these changes were affecting. I was also trying to figure out how to check email and voicemail at the center. Oh yeah, and the keys to show furniture were missing this morning, and no one knew where they were and everyone else was in a meeting the entire morning. At the same time, Chinese students were coming in to look at furniture. All this to say, I was kind of in over my head and a bit frazzled. I couldn’t finish one task without another task popping up and distracting me, but I wanted to be cool and calm the students who were coming to a place with a title such as “Hospitality Center” seems kind of important that I be polite or something. It was at this time too, that I noticed a young Caucasian guy standing outside peering into the building through the glass doors. I smiled politely a couple times to him as he kept peeking in to see what was going on.
After he peered in a few more times, he opened the door and came into the building. “Hey, welcome to the hospitality center for Chinese. Can I help you?”
“Yeah, is there a pastor I can talk with here?” he asked.
“Yeah, there is. You’ll just have to wait about 10 minutes or so until his meeting is over.”
“What’s up?” I casually asked him.
"It's been the longest night of my life" he responded with heavy eyelids. He went on to explain his story: His friend and he had been driving somewhere in their car when it broke down. His friend got a lift with his family home while this guy just kept walking around hoping he could make it back to his apartment in Wayzeta. He wandered around all night and was exhausted. I offered him some cold water and filled it up a couple times for him. I also made small talk with him and tried to ask questions to find out more about what kind of help he was looking for.
I asked if he needed money and someone to call a cab for him. But, he said he just wanted a gift card to use for gas so he could give it to his friend who lived nearby to drive him back home. He said he felt bad asking his friend for a ride without offering him something for gas. But I guess he didn’t feel bad asking complete strangers for help. Yeah, I guess was pretty skeptical about his story, about him. But nonetheless, there he sat as I literally ran around, called people, and greeted Chinese students.
But after leaving the center, I realized that if this young man had been Jesus, then I had royally messed up. And for that matter, I should just acknowledge that in fact, I did mess up. For whatever help I could have given that young man, I would have been doing for Jesus. In light of that, my treatment toward him was pathetic. I didn’t offer him any of my own money. I didn’t even really believe his story. I was polite and gave him cold water all the while running around worrying about “important” tasks that were on my own agenda and seemed integral for the overall harmony of the Hospitality Center. But I wonder, how the story might have been different if I had sat down with him and told him about the cold cup of living water that never needs refilling.