20 Yards

Ben —  March 12, 2013

302432_airport_terminalIn an airport where over 8 million passengers pass through in one day, this airport is ridiculous. Complete with its own train (subway), moving walkways and international terminal, massive is an understatement.

Even though so many people pass through, this story is about the interaction of only 2.

With the underground train coming to a halt, a young man made his way over to the moving walkway. Once stepping off, he glanced ahead and saw an elderly man completely lost. His experienced yet aging eyes were eagerly searching for an answer from someone.


As he got closer to this old man, he could hear his desperate, wavering voice asking for guidance to his next destination. One couple began to help, but hastily brushed him off only to point him in the completely wrong direction.

He knows this, because he heard what the old man had asked, and he heard where they guided him… and he did nothing.

He walked on, for about 20 yards.

For 20 yards he was somebody who was too busy to even think about anything other than getting to his next destination.

For 20 yards yards the old man went on his search for a solution to get him to reunite him with his granddaughter who was about to have her first child.

Then… the young man felt it. He could no longer resist the emotional tug that was calling him to go back and help.

He stopped, turned around, went back to the old man and asked him where he needed to go. It so happened that he got off about 2 stops too soon, so the young man tried to explain that the fastest way was to get back on the train, but he refused and said he would rather walk as it “kept him young.” There is roughly 900-1,000 feet between concourses, so this meant a lot of walking…

but also a lot of talking.

The old man went on and on about how extremely happy he was to be in Atlanta seeing his family. He told him about his granddaughter who is about to have her first child, and how he wishes his wife could have made the trip but he knows she’s watching “from above.” His face was radiant, glowing, beaming, and then they arrived at the baggage claim. The old man turned and said a sincere “Thank you, so very much.”

They parted ways.

Fast forward 2 years later, the young man thinks about the old man and wonders how he is doing and how his great grandchild is. Then he remembers the moment before turning around, how he felt he was not a Christian for 20 yards.

This is quickly dismissed with the thought of the half mile he spent with this old man. His smile etched in memory forever – a smile so bright it could light up an entire room. In fact, just thinking about it makes him smile. It’s uplifting, it’s contagious, and it’s the best example of paying attention to the Holy discontent God puts on our hearts.

We only need to listen.