“Someone pushed her!”
The doors to the subway car had just opened. People were screaming, running, and staring wildly under the train. I paused in the midst of it all, not sure why, but then started to talk with a young man.
“I was standing right here, and someone pushed her,” he said. He was to my right. I turned and asked if he saw the person who did it.
“No, too crowded. Pathetic isn’t it? This woman didn’t wake up thinking it would be her last day.” He was talking way faster than normal, even for a New Yorker.
“No she didn’t,” I said.
I kept moving, and found myself facing a neatly dressed young lady in a business suit. She said nothing, just shook her head, eyes filled with question.
“Crazy, isn’t it?”
“Yea,” she said. “It could have been any of us.”
“When the train stopped, she was right under my seat,” I said.
“Tragic,” I agreed.
A routine uptown ride had taken an awful turn, when a hand pushed a woman out of this world. She had died inches from me, but I couldn’t put a name, or face, or story to her. One moment she was reading the Times, and the next she was taken out of time. Where? Only God knows. But she had no chance to look back on her life, evaluate her wins and losses, tally her victories and learn from her mistakes. There wasn’t time for someone to sit down with her and reason about the truth of the Gospel, or answer tough questions about life and it’s complexities.
At that moment, I wanted to invent a narrative. Perhaps someone had taken the risk over coffee that morning, as together they watched steam rise from city streets, and had talked to her about eternal life. Maybe, just maybe because of that, this woman lying still on the tracks, was now face to face with a Savior she had met only moments before.
I wanted to believe that so badly.
The next day I started on the front page of the tabloids. Nothing. I rifled through the local sections…that’s strange. Back page story? Not there. It astonished me that something so horrific could happen without having a mention in the news. Life in the city that never sleeps resumed as if the woman had never lived, and died. Like a stone tossed in a pond without a ripple, I thought.
That same day I was standing outside a high school in Queens during dismissal, handing out survival kits to students. (After 911 Cru passed out a quarter million of these white plastic bags, which included a Bible, videos, and other materials for spiritual growth.) Many of the students thanked us for the gift, and some of them wanted to talk further about a relationship with Christ. In that moment, whether it was the face-to-face encounter with hunger in the eyes of students, or the memory of that woman the day before, the urgency of telling the Story spoke back into my own soul. I stood on that gritty street corner watching the last of the students turn and leave for home, and I prayed.
‘Lord, help me live so that the ripple caused by my life never ends. To act the fool if necessary, plead and beg for the reason of those caught in lies that stop belief.’
Then I did something that only a few times in my life, God has lead me to do. I re-enlisted in the Great Commission army. I didn’t sign a document, or take a vow. In fact, I didn’t tell anyone what had happened that day, or about my decision. But I renewed a purpose to do whatever it took in order to extend the invitation to relationship with God, to whom ever God placed in my path.
‘Lord, help us see those around us, and risk barging into their belief system, so that they might discover whether or not it holds water, for when your hand decides to lead them out of time.’