Posted by: everynation | October 1, 2011

Life Lessons in the Las Vegas Airport

by Paul Barker

A few years ago on a return flight from Los Angeles to Nashville, I had a layover at the Las Vegas airport. As I walked to my departing gate, I noticed that people I passed were staring at me and whispering to one another. It made me self-conscious. I did a quick scan of my clothes to make sure everything was in order. I could not see anything out of the ordinary. But people kept staring.
Finally, one guy said, “Hey man, you’ve got something on your face.” I expressed my appreciation and ducked quickly into the nearest bathroom. I was horrified. Black soot was streaked across my face. Not just a few spots, but large, thick patches covering a huge percentage of my face. I looked like Bert the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins.
To this day, I do not know where it came from. I must have brushed against something as I deplaned. But I am not sure. And I do not know how long I walked around like that.
I cleaned up and walked (sheepishly) to my gate. As I waited for my plane and reflected on what had happened, a great appreciation swelled in my heart for my unknown friend. He had pointed out what I could not see, but was glaringly apparent to everyone else. Thank God, I thought, that there were people in the world who cared enough about me to tell me the truth. His comment embarrassed me certainly, but not as much as his silence would have.
As I continued my reflection, a great anger swelled in my heart for all the people who passed me and said nothing. They may have thought, “It’s not my problem,” or “I don’t want to get involved,” or “Someone else will say something.” All good excuses, seemingly, but the real reason they said nothing was because they did not care enough.
Everyone has blind spots, black soot on their face, flaws they cannot see, but which are glaringly apparent to everyone else. And the Bible is clear that we have a responsibility to our friends to care enough to speak the truth to them.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)

Confronting our friends is not always easy, but it is fruitful. It keeps them from embarrassment. When we care enough to speak the truth to our friends, we protect them from the humiliation of walking in an airport with soot on their face – or whatever their spiritual equivalent might be.
I do not like to confront a friend. I wish it were not necessary. I do not like to be confronted by a friend. I definitely wish that was not necessary. But it is, and I appreciate it when it happens.
So thank you my Las Vegas friend, whoever you are.


Paul Barker is the Director of the School of Ministry, Nashville.

Read the original post here.

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