gift on a bus

Something happened to me on June 30, 2014 that I’ve got to tell you about.

Making my way homeward from a weekend trip, I was on the shuttle bus that transports passengers from the Kansas City airport to the long-term parking lot. I had earned some free parking passes to the lot and had two more free parking passes than I needed for my own parking tab. Since the coupons happened to expire the next day, I decided I would try to give the two free passes to another passenger on my bus. All the passengers on my bus were going to my long-term lot, and all would be paying $7.00 a day for parking their cars. My coupons for two free days of parking represented a $14.00 value.

I wanted to give the free passes to someone who would truly appreciate the savings, so I was trying to figure out how to go about it. For those of you who know me, you know I’m limited in my abilities to communicate because of a vocal injury. Whatever I might say to the other passengers would have to be communicated via my notepad. How could I convey to the other bus passengers that I was wanting to give away two days’ worth of free parking passes?

Here’s what I decided to write on my pad: “Would you like to save $14 in parking fees?”

At a loss to know who to offer the passes to on the bus, I decided to just go with the passenger closest to me. Sitting on my left was a woman, perhaps around age 50. By her comportment she could pass for a university professor or legal professional. I was more interested in giving the passes to someone in a lesser station of life, but hey, she was the closest one to me and so she had first dibs. I held my notepad up to her view. She read my message and shook her head, “No.” She didn’t want to save $14 in parking fees.

Next closest to me was an older couple sitting immediately across from me, facing me. I’m guessing they were around 60 years old. He had the appearance of someone who is well established in life, and once again, they didn’t represent the profile I had in mind but hey, they were the next closest to me so they had second dibs on the passes. I held my notepad up to them; the man read my message and shook his head, “No.” He didn’t want to save $14 in parking fees either.

The next closest passenger was a young man further to my left. He appeared to me to be roughly 30 years old. He was standing in the aisle because the bus was very full and overloaded with passengers. I reached past the woman on my left and held my notepad up for this young man to read. He read my message and shook his head, “No.” He didn’t want to save $14 in parking fees.

Just past him, and sitting on the other side of the couple facing me, was another young man who appeared to be in his upper 20s. I now had to reach my pad past the three parties who had just told me no, in order to get my message within the view of this other passenger. The young man read my message and shook his head, “No.” Neither did he want to save $14 in parking fees.

I thought to myself, “This isn’t working. I am not going to be able to give these free parking passes away.” I had one final option. There was another passenger that I could reach with my notepad, and if she said no, then I would give up. She was sitting on the other side of the woman on my left. So I reached my arm behind the woman on my left, and stretching my arm out so that this other woman could read my note, I held it up to her view. I would guess that she was in her mid 20s. She read my message, her eyes lit up, she gave me a nice smile and nodded, “Yes.” So I reached into my shirt pocket, pulled out my two free parking passes, and immediately handed them to her.

I realized, of course, that all these passengers in my circle of view were watching the entire proceedings. When I turned back, after giving her the two passes, and checked the faces of the other parties who had declined my overtures, you would have thought that I did not exist. Not one of them would give me eye contact. They all stared ahead stoically into space, as though our little drama had not even happened.

I would pay to know what they were thinking. “I just passed up two free parking coupons.” Of course, we can all imagine why they might say no to such an overture. For starters, it’s unusual for someone to be communicating on a notepad. Furthermore, we’ve all been taught that nothing in life is free. There are always strings attached. They didn’t know what strings might be attached to my question, so they summarily declined.

But as it turned out, there were no strings attached. It was simply a gift. A stranger was offering a gift to other strangers.

The young woman who got the two passes happened to get off the bus at my stop. As we parted she called out to me, “Thanks again! Have a great night!”

As I drove away it occurred to me that this is how the Father offers His Gospel to us. He asks, “Would you like eternal life?” It’s a gift to strangers, offered without any gimmicks.

When I thought about those who had declined my offer, I was reminded of this verse: “Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles’” (Acts 13:46).

I hope you are not unworthy of accepting the Father’s offer of eternal life. It’s simply a gift. No gimmicks.