[Part 1, Chapter 1]
The difference I’ve discovered between jogging in the city and the country comes down to one main thing. It’s not primarily the scenery, the fresh air, the sense of freedom, or being out in God’s creation.
It’s the greeting.
My running app shows tracked runs in all the cities we’ve been privileged to visit. I’ll run anywhere.
But in most of those cities, there’s hardly a hello to be had. No eye-contact. Earbuds that tune the other runners into their own devices also inoculate them from their surroundings. And from those who surround them.
The irony is, most people are starved of connection and wonder if their existence is even noticed by others.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’” (Luke 1:26-28)
Sent by God, the angel comes into the life of Mary with a greeting, a hello, a connection. It is eye-contact from the throne room to earth. It is personal, it is ordinary, and it is familiar. It is God initiated, Father God breaking the ice.
Every culture has that word—that one word that breaks the ice, brings a nod, creates a smile, and produces a bond between strangers: hello!
Or, as the angel put it, “Greetings!”
Bonjour, Hola, Guten Tag, Namaste, Salaam, Ciao, Ohayo, Merhaba, Jambo, Ni Hau, Halo, Olà.
It’s sensational, when you’re overseas, how a simple greeting can generate so much favour. People will often comment how much they appreciate it when you take the trouble to learn some of their language.
Languages don’t come easy to my wife, Julie. When we were out for dinner in Japan, she constantly rehearsed the word for thank you, Arigato. Even at the dinner table, she leaned across and whispered to me, “What was it again?” Then repeating it under her breath, “Arigato. Arigato. Arigato,” she went up to the waiter, bowed politely, and said, ‘Origami!”
The greeting, the effort, the engagement all says, “I see you.”
This is how your favour journey begins. Your heavenly Father sees you. He is not too busy. He’s not on his play-station or in his tractor, with his earbuds in, oblivious to his surroundings, and unmindful of you.
Greetings. I see you. You matter. I am engaging with you. What is happening in you and in your world is of consequence to me. You are significant to me.