This morning, while driving to work, I took my usual shortcut through a residential neighborhood to avoid one particular intersection that backs up about 1/4 mile. This time, I had to sit at a stoplight for a couple of minutes, which is unusual.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of red t-shirt and looked off to the right to catch a small Hispanic boy with a mullet, brandishing a toy gun, running along the line of cars. The first thought that struck me was "Great, a drive-by-shooter in training."
On second thought, I realized that the "drive-by-shooter" thing was probably not appropriate, but I couldn't shake the thought that this kid was going to grow up to be in a gang, or commit some kind of gun-related crime. Carjacking. Armed robbery. Murder.
And suddenly, God spoke to me. "What are you doing?" that still small voice said. "Writing off that child's life? Consigning him to a life of violence and crime? Don't you realize that there is power in your words?"
I began to pray and intercede for that little boy and the future that God has planned for him. I have to remind myself sometimes that every life has purpose. Every life has promise. God has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us, if we would but choose to follow. That little boy has a calling - and if someone will take an interest in him and lead him to Christ, who knows what effect this boy will have on his world?
A couple of miles down the road, I had to sit at another intersection. Today, unlike most days, there were pedestrians on every corner, and high-school-age kids crossing the street everywhere I looked. I looked at them today through different eyes. I prayed for each of them as they passed, because that girl who's dressed like a slut? She needs the love of Christ. That boy who is wearing baggy pants and a bandana and strutting like a gang-banger? He could have an encounter with Jesus today that would blow his mind. That shy, plain girl hanging apart from the crowd? She is special to God. He knows her name. He knows her needs.
It's so easy sometimes to look at people as people - a group of faceless, nameless stereotypes. I don't know these kids. I may never encounter them individually, have to interact with them on a personal level, or have the opportunity to ask them if they know Jesus. But God knows their names. I'm asking Him today that this little shake-up in my outlook continues. I'm asking that the passion for souls - and the compassion for the individuals - gets stirred up some more within me.
I'm asking myself to stop jumping to conclusions about people, and to start looking at them as God looks at them - as souls in need of Christ, who have such great potential for His Kingdom.
How about you?