What’s Going on Inside?

Posted on Wednesday 3 June 2009

The house I live in is in an old neighborhood in view of my city’s imposing skyline. It’s a cozy little cottage, one that would not look out of place plunked down, Oz-like, in any small town in America. But the address of this house is decidedly urban, on an avenue bisecting the neighborhood north and south, with stoplights anchoring its east and west boundaries. lighted windowAcross from my front porch, less than twenty yards away, sits a city bus stop, always busy. Sometimes, mostly at night, I’ll hear music booming from the speakers of a passing car: blaring, skittering Tejano rhythms, or the thudding bass of hip hop beats. The sound at times is so loud my living room seems to vibrate and annoyed, I think, “Good grief! What must it sound like to someone insidethat car?”
I consider this about passing traffic, and yet, hardly ever think about what it might be like inside someone else’s world…inside their skin.

What’s going on inside the young woman in my Sunday school class whose family is about to move 2,000 miles away, to a town where they know no one? Last week her face was a placid, expressionless pool each time I caught her gaze, but she said nothing to me, nor I to her. What’s going on with the colleague whose husband I know lost his job, who has two kids and a mortgage, and no easy way to make ends meet? What’s going on inside the heart of the boy who carries the Diet Dr. Pepper I ordered to the outside line of the drive-thru, the one who always greets me with a smile that shows his gold front tooth, and who likes to say “See you next time”? What is it like to be him? What’s going on inside?
I don’t ponder this much, but I believe Jesus did. I believe he studied the centurion whose son was on his deathbed, and felt the dry mouthed fear of every father’s worst nightmare. I believe he crawled inside the skin of a Samaritan woman at high noon, and knew how it was to be shunned by the neighbors, but dying for love. I believe he inhabited the heart of Peter each time he blurted the words “I know him not!” and imagined what every traitor longs for most: the trust of the betrayed, undeserved but sure. So he said to him, “Feed my sheep. Tend my lambs. Care for my flock.”
How many people do I pass in a day whose stories could use a brief infusion of hope? How many times do I ache for someone to pause long enough to ask me,”What’s going on inside?” It’s easy to think I know how it is in someone else’s world – but I don’t. Not anymore than they know what it’s like on the other side of the brightly lit windows, across from the bus stop on my busy street, on any night of any week.
Don’t you ever wonder what’s going on inside?
And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare. (Jeremiah 29:7, NASB)

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