When No One Is Looking

I was driving through a town where I used to live and stopped to get coffee.  Things looked so familiar and yet so different.  Time has a way of changing things.  It was my mom’s birthday, and I have had a habit of trying to find extended solitude on her birthday.  It’s not really grief as much as it is savoring and thinking about what she would say to me if she could be having coffee with me.  Windshield time is always good for me and this was one of those days.

I walked through the door and saw a very familiar face.  I was wearing a hat, which meant I was effectively invisible.  (That’s what having a bald head does–if it’s covered, nobody recognizes me!)  So I only had a few minutes as I waited for my order.  I wasn’t in the mood for conversation and really was quite protective of my solitude that day, so I just watched.  I saw the familiar mannerisms, the broad smile, and the slightly animated expression on his face.  He was surrounded by 5 other men, none of whom I knew, but I could tell about their manner and interaction that they were in an accountability group.  They were catching up and I spied two Bibles among them.

The group was almost alone–it was still early, and they had come here to start their day together, away from the busyness of their work, their homes, or their families.  It was important to them, and I could tell. And that’s when the thought whispered in my heart, “This is who they are when no one’s looking.”  But I WAS looking at someone I had met, prayed with, prayed for.  SOMEONE is always watching.  He is our audience, and we live our lives before Him, honoring Him, listening for Him, seeking His approval and help.  The group was almost literally hidden in a corner, not meeting for show, not teaching a class.  They were there to encourage each other.

And as a former pastor to one of them, I was grateful for what I saw.  “Lord, are you grateful for what you see when no one is looking?”  I’ve been wondering that all week long, and hoping that the words of my mouth, the private choices I make are congruent with what I would do if I knew EVERYBODY was looking.

J.I. Packer said that this kind of thinking was the foundation of integrity.  And that is what I pursue for His sake, for what we do when NO one is looking is what defines our character most.

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