He does a double take.
It’s got to be my ridiculous bed head.
I step back from the luggage carousel, run my fingers through tired hair.
It’s mid June and I’m flying home from speaking, only to find my flight home to Canada canceled. It had been after 2 in the morning when I finally fell into the pillow in a darkened hotel room, heavy air freshener masking a million travelers who’d gone before.
Then four hours sleep.
Then pull on a dress, back to the airport to take my place in humanity’s lines of leaving and dreaming.
I had watched how a woman held her swelling abdomen as she stepped down the escalator, caressing the coming one, attending to the unseen.
I remembered that unconscious cradling right from the beginning, all those times.
I had smiled when a woman breezed by with her hair done up in wedding veil, her flipflops slapping, a grinning man right on her heels.
Now and then, I glanced at the woman beside me writing in a looping, lopsided scrawl on a yellow legal pad, making her numbered list.
I had made mine own mental list of thanks, me waiting and watching, bed headed and bare-faced and without make-up, relieved to be going home to the Farmer who takes me anyways.
A man who thinks the best thing any woman can wear is a smile, the hidden within wore happily on the outer. I am praying for this.
And when I land on Canadian turf midday, and the man at the luggage carousel does his double take, when the man turns from the the luggage conveyor belt spewing out a stream of black carry ons, all a bit like adolescents with identity crisis, each sprouting a wild head of ribbon to set them apart from the crowd, he asks, “Yours?”
I shake my head, no. Not yet. Still waiting.
I don’t expect what he says next:
“I like your dress…”
I must have misheard. Without luggage, I’m wearing the same dress as yesterday, the same one my mother frankly called bland and bag-like, the one without a zipper or shape, that you just slip over your head, long, mid-calf, and simple, neckline round and high and plain. I’m shaking my head. No. Not at all.
“Your dress…” he says it again so I hear, his accent heavy. “It looks so… spiritual.”
Oh? Um. I didn’t expect that.
I’m wary. I’m not sure who this man is… And I’m ridiculously awkward, shy and not the kind of pretty face that men strike up conversations with.
And a Travelsmith dress, bought off ebay — spiritual?
It’s pale purple. I’m wearing a strand of pale mauve glass beads. I’m not wearing a headcovering, habit or bonnet — just bedhead. No cross around my neck, no robe with a rope tied around waist, no Beth Moore button on shoulder (though I do fleetingly think of Mrs. Beth’s airport story and wish I knew what she’d say right now.)
I inadvertently look down at bland purple — um, what exactly looks spiritual?
“So…. what do you do?” The man circles his hand likes he’s trying to get me to roll out me tied up tongue.
What’s he expecting me to say?
“I’m a … a farmer’s wife.” I stammer it out. Good one, farm hick — mention your husband. And this is what I do: love and serve one faithful, hardworking man. I am a wife. Oh, and the other important part: “We have six children. I teach them at home.” I’m pulling hard at those strand of beads and I can feel it, the flush of heat rising up my neck.
He nods slow. Face on fire, I keep looking for my luggage.
“I work in stocks. Out of Chicago.”
Oh? I nod, keeping my eyes on the spinning carousel, feeling only a tad spun.
In deep, Eastern tones, he tells me about the last ten years of his life, this job, that city, and I keep nodding, fingering desperate along that necklace like a string of prayer beads, never turning from the luggage carousel.
“One week, my stocks, they make $80,000. Next week, I lose $100,000.” He shrugs his shoulders. “The way it goes.”
“Well…” I lean to see if that’s my zippered piece of baggage finally dropping off the belt. “Money isn’t what’s eternal, is it?”
“Ah!” he throws his arms in the air. “I knew it! So you are spiritual!”
Oh, where is Beth Moore when you need her?
I breathe deep and smile, the Holy Spirit always within, giving the words, and I just pray that I hear Him right.
“So what kind of spiritual are you?” He moves to my right, trying to make eye contact.
“I’m a Christian.” The words come… without fumbling. This is who I am: loving and serving One who is Faithful. I am His. This is the important part.
“But…” he’s circling his hand again, wanting more. “What kind of Christian?”
Oh. Kind? Isn’t being a Christian rather like being pregnant? You either wholly are or you really aren’t — is there an in between? How did we become known as “kinds” of Christian instead of being simply, humbly, loving Christians? What if following Christ was about a living faith not about wearing faith labels — about living Christ-behaviour, not living in Christian boxes?
“I’m an evangelical, born-again Christian.” I say it quietly, searching a stockbroker’s face. “I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as our only Saviour.” It’s startling how right the words feel out loud.
Why in the world don’t I say these words aloud to strangers more often? Why don’t I live them more clearly? I am ashamed of how many times, unlike the apostle Paul, I have been ashamed of the gospel, the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16)
I have no idea why the dress appeared, for some inexplicable reason, spiritual — but what about my bare soul?
How much of my life is about looking spiritual on the outside — instead of living with the Spirit on the inside?
Why clean the outer curve of cups and slight the inner communion with Christ?
There’s no true holiness without wearing deep humility — the humility of speaking humbly what the world considers wholly foolish, to be the weak that God uses to speak the strong.
“I am going to see a friend here.” The man looks down at his watch.
“She asks me why I come see her and I tell her that all over the world the spiritual make pilgrimages to places. So can’t I make the journey to see her?”
“Yes, yes, go see her.” I smile, stepping to grab the handle of my carry-on.
“It’s souls that are the eternal priorities…”
I don’t think I am doing any of this right and Mrs. Beth obviously would have done this exponentially better and oh, just to simply clothe this ragged soul in humility and what kind of Christian am I really?
The man nods warmly, reaches for his red suitcase dropping onto the carousel.
And what are we really here to do but to live the Great Commission — not the Great Optional?
How will I feel standing before Jesus, robed in His sacrificed righteousness, only to see that all my excuses to not share the gospel were but cloaks for selfish fear and pride?
Who in the world hides good news? When you know God is the well of all enjoyment and sin the pit of all entanglement — then isn’t it clear what to run from and Who to run to? Why be afraid to share this?
There may not often be great opportunities to change the world, but every single day there are small ones — and all the small can do nothing but add up to great.
And I stand at the baggage claim, unconsciously fingering along the seams of my skirt….
And there could be the humble bold who claim the Truth, wear the grace, and speak the unashamed — that one more wanderer might be clothed in Christ….:
“Someone asked “Will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved?”
It is more a question — Whether we — who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not — can be saved.”
~ Charles Spurgeon
edited post from archives