I began a new job six weeks ago, so I’m still meeting people and trying desperately to match names to new faces. One morning last week, a head appeared over my cubicle wall. It was an older man with smile lines and light gray hair. I had met him just briefly on my first day, but I remembered his name. Score.
“Can I talk to you about something?” he asked, smiling nervously. “Do you have some time to meet this morning?” Despite my smile, my face must have revealed my curiosity about his urgency, and the fact that we weren’t on any projects together.
“It won’t take long. I’d just like to show you something,” he said. I told him I’d stop by his desk at noon since I already had morning meetings scheduled. He grinned and walked away.
When I went over to see if he was ready to chat he proposed we grab a meeting room. So we did and sat across from each other at the table. His fingers were fidgeting with edges of his burgundy leather binder. He looked like a tea kettle that’s about to whistle.
I interlaced my fingers on the table and met his eyes. “So, what did you want to talk to me about?”
“I’ve been wanting to speak with you for a week or so now. Because I noticed the Bible verses on the whiteboard at your desk.”
“Oh. Really?” I asked. This could go one of two ways.
“I read them every day when I walk by.”
“And they have been extremely encouraging to me. How do you pick the verses you put up there?” My heart was dancing in my chest. I love when things like this happen, when it’s obvious God is right here with me.
“Honestly, I don’t have any specific order. They’re just verses that stand out to me when I read the Bible on my own or in small group,” I said.
He recalled some of the verses I’d had up there.
I interrupted, “Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my favorites. It’s probably my life verse.” Throughout college, when choosing a major and what to do with [the rest of my life] loomed large in front of me, it told me I would alright. And after many of the plans I’d worked hard on fell apart this year, it spoke truth to my heart and brought me peace in spite of the countless uncertainties. Jeremiah 29: 11 goes like this:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
He opened up his binder on the table. “I’ve been a Christian since high school. And these,” he slid a note card out from a binder pocket, “are some of the verses that have really impacted me.” He continued, “God has placed them on my heart to share with you, to encourage you in your faith.” His eyes were shiny, kind. I thanked him. I was so present in that moment, overwhelmed by how sweet and unexpected it was. “You don’t have to put them on your board or anything. I just want to encourage you.”
He had circled his life verse on the card: 1 Samuel 12:24, which says:
“But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”
“Consider,” he said, “is the key word. Consider all God has done for you.”
My new friend was retiring the very next day. That’s why it was urgent. He said he’d always wanted to share his faith and encourage Christians he worked with more. Now he was finally doing it.
“I don’t know why I had to wait until my last few days to say something,” he said.
Isn’t this true for so many of us? We wait and wait and wait to prioritize what really matters to us. What if we started now, in the communities God has placed us in? We can share and learn about each others’ religions and cultures. We can be ourselves – values, soul, and all – inside and outside of the workplace. As it comes up in normal conversation at work, it’s alright to say that we’re involved at our church or that we read Christian books. We spend eight to ten hours a day with these people. We can let these topics see the surface. Who knows what relationships God will create? Who knows what opportunities will arise outside of the office to talk further?
Christianity isn’t just a Sunday thing. It’s who we are.
But if I’m being honest, I put those verses up on my whiteboard mostly to encourage myself and keep my focus on the Lord. I didn’t think anyone would bother to read them. The whiteboard is tiny anyway. But look at what God has done. Look how he’s moving in the lives of others through my simple action. My coworker and I had a beautiful conversation. We bridged the gap. I’m so grateful that he chose to be vulnerable with me and listen to God over staying comfortably impersonal — grey and neutral.
1 Samuel 12:24 is up the whiteboard now, so that all who see it might consider all the Lord has done for them. If it’s you who’s reading it and you don’t know what He’s done for you, I’d love to talk about it over lunch sometime. Just pop over the wall.