I’ll admit to a vivid imagination. It keeps me entertained, humors my friends, endears me to many and is the cause of sporadic troubles.
I enjoy “People Watching”*… you know, sitting on a park bench, in a mall or at a sidewalk café watching a parade of God’s glorious and funky creatures… kinda like bird watching except with people.
So, I board my flight from LAX to DC on my way to Zurich early (to get “situated” into my assigned seat stow my carry-on stuff; arrange my water bottle, head phones, iPod, journal with a 0.5 mechanical pencil in the seat sleeve; get my gum out and pray that God has sovereignly kept the seat next to me vacant). Sitting on the aisle in the forward compartment of the plane I view everyone pass by to their seats. As I often do, I wonder/imagine what each person’s story is. So much is seen in our countenance, our body language, eyes, and the posture of our soul.
I wonder what each traveler is leaving behind or headed to… what hints/clues to their story does their furrowed or furry brow tell? I note the wide range of smiles, styles, scowls, hairdo’s and don’ts, smirks and body shapes; their ”look”, accessories, their gait, weight, demeanor… it’s a virtual circus of lions and mice, glorious and broken… unfinished men posing and hiding; woman both beautiful and abused. Each one with a story and a wound… sometimes hidden, sometimes worn on our “sleeve”. We are a varied, odd, complex and beautiful species.
So we’re wheels up and on our way.
Is it just me or have you noticed the phenomenal of people changing over the course of a long international flight? Somewhere over the ocean we cross some portal… some seam, a contour, a line where something significant changes… it’s not the International Date Line, but some kind of a personality/character-time dilation-warp-speedo-change-eroonie thingamajig were people are transformed rather quickly. The 300 or so passengers leaving DC were by far your typical looking Americans. The gal across the aisle from me was a house wife from Winnemucca off to visit an old college friend living in Switzerland, the guy next to me … a loud businessman from Maryland intending to seal a deal in Geneva. At some point during my sleep aided nap we crossed that line and everything was different. The economy section was now the Hofbrauhaus, Munchen. It seems the whole plane was speaking German. They’d all morphed. The gal now looks like an alpine farm girl with a handkerchief pattern dress, braided hair and a hearty Béarnaise accent. Mr. Businessman now looks like an old world silver haired clock maker in a frazzled wool vest and wire rim glasses. It’s amazing. I was surprised no one was yodeling.
I arrive in Zurich and spend the next nine days teaming with our Swiss allies in the adventure of launching the first Swiss German Boot Camp. It was fascinating, astonishing… wonderful, and life changing. A number of times I simply cried with the joy of witnessing the birth of something dangerous, wild and good in Europe.
For over two years Ruedi, Peter, Hansjakob, Andrian and Gerd had been following God, investing blood, sweat and tears** in pursuit of the desire to awaken the hearts of Swiss and German men. Man did they! God came big time. I was so very proud of these men. They’re knuckleheads just like our team: a businessman, physical therapist, a teacher, chemist and a retired professor… and each living in a story far larger than they could have imagined a few years ago. Just like our team.
God calls each of us to be someone we’ve never been… it’s who we truly are.
God calls each of us to do something we’ve never done… it’s usually the very thing we’ve always wanted to do but never believed we could. It’s what we were made to do. Until we do it, it’s all talk… dreams, hopes… potential… “Woulda shoulda could’ves”.
There comes a time when you gotta get up and get out on the dance floor.
And as we leave the comfort of the chair, the security of the wide well traveled path for the unique path God has for us we’re changed. It’s some kind of a personality/character- God-authored-transformational-speedo-change-eroonie thingamajig. It’s God. Following Him we’re changed… dramatically at times.
When I left Switzerland nine days later these men were different men. They’d been on the dance floor. They’d pursued their dream. They had a new look; countenance, an affirmed strength, a validated gifting, a tested and found true heart. Spring had come for them and they were full bloom. This wasn’t my fanciful imagination. Our Swiss friends became kings of a new domain, leaders in the Large Story of what God is doing in Europe. It’s was amazing. I heard angels yodeling.
– Craig McConnell
*Urban Dictionary definition of “People Watching”:
1.People watching is when u go around and watch people that u've never met before and, based on their actions, movements, and gestures, guess what kind of people they are and what they do.2.When people with no lives or losers who go out to watch people because they nothing better to do.
** They came to several of our Colorado Boot Camps, the Advanced Camp and flew out for a weekend given to conversation, prayer and developing our relationship. In our interactions, prayers and discussions there was a strong sense that God was orchestrating our relationship and this mission.