The sign on the wall reads: Now serving 85. The slip of paper in my hand tells me that my number is 104. I’m sitting in the DMV office and it is crawling with humanity.
The Department of Motor Vehicles is always an eye-opening experience for me. It always seems like I am a total outsider when I walk through those doors. As I find one of the few remaining seats and settle in for a long wait, I can’t help but overhear a continual stream of random bits of conversation.
The little girl a few seats down is telling an older woman (that may be her grandmother) that she made a new friend in Bible school, the woman is distracted and disinterested, so the little girl repeats the sentence several times hoping her news will be acknowledged. The young man behind me is talking about his brother who is in prison and laughing about the fact they’ve given him good conduct status, saying, “They don’t know him!”
A man’s phone is going off. His ring tone is a woman screaming.
I find that a bit disturbing, who would choose a woman’s horrified scream as their ring tone? We’re up to number 95 now. The foyer is filled with about 20 people who are left standing in the overflow area because the 24 seats in the office are all filled with tired, impatient humanity. Except the children, most of them are entertaining themselves by watching the mix of people as though it is a reality show. Well, it is. This is reality.
I’m picking up bits of paper; numbered tickets cast off by previous customers as I listen to the newest addition to our group, a heavily tatted woman with most of her upper body clearly exposed. She’s telling some total stranger about the latest events on her favorite television program. She doesn’t seem to notice that the stranger she’s talking to isn’t acknowledging her.
An extremely anorexic-looking woman leaves her seat and steps up to the counter to fill her small empty plastic bottle with antiseptic hand cleaner from the dispenser on the counter. I don’t think the purpose of placing the bottle there is for it to be used as a public re-fill station. The woman seems oblivious to that fact.
As I sit watching this scene, I’m overwhelmed with longing. I keep wondering, “What would Jesus do here?” My impulse is to stand and shout out a message of truth and hope to this crowd, to ask them if they knew that a Redeemer has come, that He is the answer to their greatest need, that He can fill their deepest longing, and satisfy their soul’s greatest craving.
I want to shout, but instead I pray.
I pray for the little girl who went to Bible school today, and I ask God to meet her through truths she heard there and draw her to Himself. I pray for the man whose brother in prison and ask God to capture his heart as I’ve seen Him do in so many inmates’ lives. I pray for the woman who seeks attention with her bared body and ask Jesus to meet her and let her know His love for her. I pray for the anorexic woman and ask Jesus to fill her hunger with Himself.
And I kept wondering (and still am mulling it over), “What would Jesus do?”
After our last trip to the DMV my husband commented, “Is there a day specified for ‘normal people’ to come here? I must’ve missed that memo, because I’ve never been here on a day where I saw anyone else that looked like people I know.”
By “normal people” he of course means people more like us . . . people who choose to dress in street clothes when in public places rather than in their pajamas, people who refrain from screaming and cursing at their children, people who’ve never considered using all the colors of the rainbow in their hair or permanently inked in their skin. Those people probably view us as weird—not “normal.”
There really is only two kinds of people, and they aren’t distinguished by the clothes they wear or the color of their hair (although I do believe heart condition will affect our outward choices, but that’s another post). The two categories of people are those who have found their greatest need met in the redeeming love of Christ and those who are still hungry, searching, seeking to satisfy their needy condition but turning to empty wells rather than the Living Water.
Perhaps I should’ve stood and shouted out a repentance message. John the Baptist would’ve. Or maybe I should’ve come armed with a handful of gospel tracts to hand out (I wish I had), but on that day, all I knew to do was to pray and allow the encounter to deepen my burden for a needy world.
What do you think Jesus would do at the DMV? What would you do?