(Years before I used the internet and maintained a blog, I used to keep personal journals. This post reproduces one of those journal entries. I was in my mid-twenties at the time, young and naïve to be sure. I made a number of editing adjustments to the reproduction.)
August 30, 1996
I am intrigued and moved by the invisible people. I have shared lunch with an invisible man at work 3 times this week. His name is Bud. He is a strange and … creepy little man. But he is so incredibly invisible, and I [saw] him. I wonder how many times I might’ve looked right at him and not see him. I hope that I was not so insensitive. But I could have been. I am only recently struck by him and his invisibleness.
I like to think that I see him with eyes of compassion. Or maybe the sight that comes with faith in Jesus….
Bud is a janitor at [my work place (a major worldwide corporation, btw)]. He works for a contractor called BSI. I’ve seen many BSI employees many times as have everyone who works [at our complex]. But they rarely, if ever, socialize with [employees from other companies there].
Most BSI people appear to be poor and uneducated. Upon initial observance, they all wear blue shirts as a uniform of sorts. …Many are of Hispanic ethnicity and speak Spanish to each other. Perhaps they do not know English. Often this secludes them to their own Spanish speaking social circles. Of those who are not Hispanic, most appear to be what is commonly referred to as “white trash.” This is evident by their missing teeth, second-hand clothing, and also most of them smoke. It’s an all-around unattractiveness.
Many times these people go unnoticed and not spoken to by other corporate personnel, except when one of them is mopping a floor and the other personnel must walk on the wet surface. Even then typically the BSI worker goes ignored (or at least not spoken to).
I have never seen [corporate personnel from either my employer or other contractors] share their lunch hour visiting with BSI personnel. In fact the notion barely occurred to me, and then fled my mind as quick as it had come – until this week.
What words would I say? What interests could we share? Wouldn’t I make a fool of myself if I tried? What if I spoke to one of them and he was a complete moron or a weirdo?
Well a few days ago I bumped into this one guy 2 or 3 times in a row. I smiled and made polite comment, which was not too far out of the ordinary, but more than most. But it was kind of funny how we crossed paths and tangled the way we did.
[I entered the men’s room to use the urinal, but had to wait for him to clean it. When I was finished, I had to wait for him to finish cleaning the sink. When I wanted to use the paper towel, he was changing it out. At each step, he was both serving me and in my way at the same time!]
So, I inquired his name. “Bud.” I must have shared my name to because when I saw him the next day, he remembered… [Agent X].
I shared my lunchtime with him. We sat and ate and visited in plain sight of everyone. I felt a social taboo, and I was breaking it. It felt powerful.
The conversation was dull, for me anyway. But I had decided that my motives were not for rich conversation, but to be Christ-like [and see where that would lead me].
Jesus was a servant’s servant. He reached out and hand picked 12 apostles. At that time, they were invisible men living out pointless lives. They all failed Jesus as a friend and disciple while they were with him, but he found them to be friend-worthy anyway.
Today we fail to see that Peter, James, John and the gang were uneducated fishermen and the like. They were not equipped with royalty or status or knowledge to tell the world what God has done. Rather they were empty shells, or empty cups, and in fact so empty that they could not resist the Master when he filled them up. They did not understand fully until they had hindsight and faith was born.
Jesus did not come to fill up the empty cups of the [elites]. The [elites] had used their pride, for they had their royalties and status and knowledge to have that pride in, to fill their own empty hearts and lives with the pleasures, lusts, and power of humankind. They looked for a king on parade. They wanted to go on parade with him [and ride his coat tails through whatever violence that might incur]. He could feed their arrogant pride and justify their self-serving self-righteousness.
This [pride] is what they hungered for and what they manifested in their clean living.
The woman at the well or the woman “caught in the act” or the woman in Luke 7 who came to Jesus at Simon the Pharisee’s house did not live clean lives. The very nature of their uncleanliness compelled them toward Jesus. Granted the woman “caught in the act” was brought against her will, but her unclean living is what compelled her to him.
By contrast, Simon’s approach to Jesus was curious [and] aloof. He held his pride in reserve.
Bud is a servant. He mops floors and dumps trash. People step around him in a crowded room as if he did not exist. If he died and did not show up for work tomorrow, it would only be other BSI people who would notice.
But Bud is a servant.
I’m reminded that in John 2, at the wedding feast, Jesus turned water into wine. It was his first miraculous sign.
Miracles proved who Jesus was to the people of his day. It was the servants (people seen, but not heard (and not seen, for that matter)) – INVISIBLE PEOPLE – who saw and knew of this glory. The servants were the ones to witness this glorious act!
John 2:8-9 from the NCV
…So they took the water to the master. When he tasted it, the water had become wine. He DID NOT KNOW where the wine came from, but THE SERVANTS who had brought the water KNEW.
THIS is who Jesus befriended and loved and [played the role] of God among. He even loved and served criminals. Zacchaeus (Luke 19) would have been considered treasonous by good Jews of his day!
Suddenly when I saw the invisible man – Bud – the other day, I realized that a friend to him would be priceless. If I were Bud’s friend, I’d be priceless. That’s what Jesus became to his friends. [And if I wanted to take on the role of Jesus in the drama of my workplace and social world, I should do likewise!]
One day after I met Bud, I sat down to lunch and several other test drivers [contractor personnel] joined me. They crowded around me at the lunch table. I’d picked a remote spot before that hoping that I’d have solitude, and that when Bud came to lunch, he [might feel comfortable joining] me.
Well, since I was surrounded by the time he arrived, he could not have sat with me anyway. But I watched him across the room. He sat next to a driver that did not notice him. Then he read his Louis L’amour book. He had lunch alone in a crowded room.
I thought, “How lonely it is to be invisible… How dear friendship must be.”
I said to the man next to me, “Would you believe that I can see invisible people?” He laughed it off, [thinking I was just clowning around with him].
The next day Bud came and visited me again in the break room. He lights up in his expression when he sees me. It turns out that he is pretty creepy. He invited me to a keg party down on the river this weekend. He tells me there will be naked women there and lots of booze, music, and “action.” He even described a similar party some time back where a woman stripped and went off into the woods to masturbate or another time when he hid a naked woman from the sheriff’s deputy.
I don’t even know how much of this, if any, is true. I find it all repulsive though, and I shudder to imagine the kind of woman Bud describes. I declined the invitation, but Bud does not hear me saying, “No. I won’t come.” Rather, he eagerly goes home and draws me a map to follow!
Well, I won’t be going. My first ministry is to my marriage, and this kind of thing would really damage her faith in me. Besides, I have no desire there. But I am reminded that Jesus was characterized as a glutton and a drunk who hung out with the wrong crowd on more than one occasion (Matt. 11:19 & Luke 7:34). And THIS, God saw fit to record in the Scriptures.
So, I will continue to be social among the invisible. Actually, my contact with them causes them to be noticed. Jesus would do it. So will I.
I worked side-by-side today with another odd-ball man. He seems to hold to a New Age style faith, or mentality. He has a criminal history of drug abuse and dealing. He is in every sense of the word a “goof-ball,” bless his heart. He is a driver with my company, however he is a new-be – a rookie. I sensed that if I asked if he believes in ghosts that he would affirm it. He did. I told him that I knew some ghosts right there on the [corporate complex]. I told him that I spoke to them, AND that they spoke to me!
He believed me!
He was right to believe me. In fact, you could say that he was “blown away.”
Of course he told me about some ghosts he has seen or heard or felt as a cold chill on a hot day.
Somehow, I just was not impressed.