Last Wednesday evening I watched a little boy play in the snow. We hadn’t had much of a snow- two inches maybe, but then he wasn’t much of a boy – three years old, perhaps – not a day over four. It was early evening, and I was sitting in the car while my wife was shipping something at FedEx. It was dark. His mother (aunt?) was moving things from one car to another. She was completely oblivious to him as he ran up and down the traffic island, kicking up puffs of snow. This would have all been idyllic had it taken place in a spacious yard on a quiet residential street. It was, however, taking place in a busy and slippery parking lot.
He was about 50 yards away from where I was sitting. For the duration of three songs (“Subdivisions” by Rush, “Tupelo Honey” by Van Morrison, and “Train in Vain” by The Clash), he kept running up and down the traffic island, each time going farther away from his oblivious female caretaker. It put me absolutely on edge. I get uptight when I see people not taking care of their little ones. When I’m in an airport, or a shopping mall and I see some little three year old trying to keep up with an adult who is paying them no mind, I have the urge to shake that adult until their teeth are loose. I have never yielded to that urge – yet.
He started hopping on and off the curb – while people in Hummers flew by, talking on their cell phones. I was getting out of our car to intercede when a Ford F350 very slowly pulled up within a few feet of the boy and stopped. The headlights of the truck were shining right in his face. Then the driver of that truck blared his horn. The little boy jumped like he had been spring-loaded and ran back to the car his relative was piling things into. He jumped into the front seat like he was taking cover from the strafing of WWII Mustang. The big Ford drove slowly off, and I thanked the Lord for that driver and his truck’s horn. The little boy never emerged again. His mother (?) hadn’t taken notice of any of it.
Her obliviousness, as she put him in his car-seat and drove off was infuriating. How could she be so nonchalant about the danger her was in? How could she just go about her business like there was nothing to be concerned about?
And then the next day, as I was heading to the mail box, saying hello to this neighbor, and asking about the health of another one – nonchalantly exchanging niceties with people I know are likely lost, and heading indoors to watch “Jeopardy,” I realized I was just as oblivious.
In Isaiah 43.5-7 God looks forward to a day when he can call all his children home. Jesus, in Matthew 7.13-14 admits that most of us will not find our way home. In Matthew 28.18-20, He makes us responsible for calling home those lost ones. When we don’t call – aren’t even aware of the need to call – isn’t God just as frustrated at our obliviousness? Isn’t He looking at us, each day, as we move piles of possessions around, and tend to the tedious details of the moment while we are surrounded by others living at risk. He sees our obliviousness. No one bothers help, to rescue, or even to scare the lost to safety. What will we say to Him one day about our obliviousness? What will He say?