I was already awake at 3 AM, but this was not that unusual. It was only the second night and the hotel bed and I were still getting acquainted.
As I tried laying on one side and then the other, two muffled gunshots turned the night on like a key in an ignition. The once still night air was now filled with loud voices. I got up to peer through the curtains.
Just fifty yards from the hotel, a Waffle House parking lot was swarming with people, talking loudly. Most were in two large groups and more were inside the restaurant. I couldn’t help but think of a nest of agitated hornets. No one screamed and very few left in the next hour, instead, more cars kept coming. By the time the police arrived, every inch of the parking lot overflowed with cars and people. With binoculars, I could see the waitresses still working behind the counter. The crowd seemed unconcerned about the gunfire.
Although disruptive and disturbing the peace, the crowd spent many hours together. They probably started their night out several hours before midnight. Their need to belong and spend time together was out in the open for anyone to see. They were still buzzing loudly at 4 AM when I finally fell asleep.
In just a few hours, I was joining 3,000 people as we gathered in a very large auditorium for Sunday morning worship. I could not help but think about the contrast. Since we were visiting that day, we went in and out of a building in one hour’s time. The group we joined that morning was larger than the Waffle House crowd, but probably very few people outside the building were aware of us or what we were doing.
In John 13: 34 – 35, Jesus gives us a command and a promise: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this ALL MEN WILL KNOW that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
If we want people to know we are followers of Christ, then we must think of ways to show love to fellow believers out in the public eye where others will see US and want to know HIM.