In 1979 a commercial debuted on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The intent of the commercial was two-fold: (1) to get people to make more long distance calls and (2) to soften AT&T’s image as the big bad phone company monopoly. The commercial’s clever jingle asked people to reach out and touch someone … call up and just say hi … wherever you are, you’re never too far …
Some of you remember those commercials, as well as the rotary dial phones we were using back in the day. I remember calling home “collect” from a pay phone my first year of college. It was the only way available to reach out and touch the folks back at home. Ah, those were the days!
I got touched in a whole different way yesterday. If you look closely at the dust on the dented bumper of my Kia you can actually read a portion of the license plate number of the vehicle that hit me from behind and punched me across into the oncoming traffic, where my front bumper gently kissed the front bumper of another car. The touches were coming from everywhere!
People do a lot of things they shouldn’t do while driving (and I admit that I have often been guilty myself). Things like texting, talking on the phone, applying makeup (haven’t done that one), watching videos, reading, having lunch. With all those things going on, it is no wonder there are so many unintentional “touches” on the roads out there. And when those near-misses or non-misses occur you sometimes are tempted to reach out and touch someone “upside their head” as we used to say out in West Texas.
I realized yesterday after I got touched on both bumpers that I had a choice as to how I reached back. The fellow that hit me was really apologetic, and that helped my choice a lot. But I still could have given him a piece of my mind and lectured him on safe driving practices. That wouldn’t have helped his attitude or his driving. It also wouldn’t have made my car any less dented. It could have made me look like a jerk and that is not the person I want driving around in my car.
One of my favorite verses from the Bible says, “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NLT)
We may not have much control over how others reach out and touch us. We do have a choice about how we reach back. On this particular day, I chose to celebrate that we were both up and walking around. I had an opportunity to be an encouragement to him, to two police officers, and to several other people with whom I had conversations immediately following our little non-miss.
Do I always get it right? Are you kidding! But I want to, because I understand that my life matters to my Lord and He wants me to use it to encourage others. Your life matters, too.
Now, go call up someone and just say hi …