We had just arrived at San Diego International Airport, almost an hour late, with great anticipation of meeting our newest grandchild. Quickly retrieving our luggage, we hustled out to the pick-up area.
As we waited for our son, deciding everyone in San Diego County must drive a silver SUV, I rummaged through our luggage for the gift bags, tissue paper, and gifts for our granddaughters.
There was a new baby gift and several birthday gifts for Big Sister’s second birthday. We were going directly from the airport to her party at a local park. With the anticipation building, we could barely stay still long enough to put the gifts together.
Then the text came saying our son wouldn’t be able to pick us up. Our delayed flight foiled our plans. Plan B.
We made our way back into the terminal on a quest to find the quickest transportation to a very important meeting and party. The baggage claim area was deserted. All the passengers from recent flights had vanished and new arrivals hadn’t made it in yet.
As we followed the signs to the ground transportation, we saw a man struggling with two suitcases stepping onto the escalator.
The first one wasn’t a problem, but the second piece, a large, duffle-style with wheels, was another story. He was pulling it behind him. Balancing the first piece on the step in front of him, he pulled the second piece onto the escalator about three steps behind him.
As the step rose up, the wheels of the duffle bag caught on the edge. The man couldn’t pull it onto the step, and it started to pull him over.
By the time this was taking place, we had arrived at the bottom of the escalator.
In slow motion, the man was pulled backwards, head first, down the steps. He lost his grip on the upper suitcase, which fell on top of him.
My husband shoved his suitcase to me and jumped onto the escalator. He pulled the man’s first bag off him, which freed him somewhat but also allowed him to somersault down a few more steps.
I watched in stunned horror. I started to move onto the killer escalator with my own two suitcases, timing my entrance perfectly so I didn’t end up in the same predicament, when I heard choking sounds coming from the man.
The strap of the duffle was around his neck. My superhero husband used all of his 7′ wingspan to free him from it. The man got himself right side up and on his feet just as the escalator reached the top.
He thanked my husband and reached for his suitcases. My husband, who is a nurse, told him his arm was bleeding. He should put something on that and get his head checked for injuries.
The man was already walking away as I stepped off the escalator.
He hollered over his shoulder that he would take care of it later. We followed him across the elevated walkway, thankful that he chose the elevator at the other end. We took the escalator.
As we arrived at the bottom of the escalator, replaying what had happened, I remembered that escalators have emergency stop buttons.
They are located on the side, right next to where I was standing, watching the scene unfold.
Why didn’t I push the button? Why didn’t I even think about the button? I was like a witness to a highway pile up. I just couldn’t look away from what was unfolding in front of me. Not even to make it stop.
The more I thought about it, the more upset I was that I hadn’t pushed the stupid button. All I had to do was push the button. Why didn’t I push the button?
That led me to think about people in my life who don’t know the Lord. I help them. If they need something, I’m right there, lifting their suitcases. But how often do I meet their real need? How often do I tell them the good news of the gospel?
I know the way to eternal life, but I fail to tell them. Instead, I do my best to show them love and live out my faith in front of them. These aren’t bad things, it’s what I should do, but I never push the button.
I see them headed for destruction, and I take them meals, watch their kids, drive them to appointments, but I never push the button. I don’t do what would be best for them, what could save their life.
I reason that God uses someone else, someone more familiar with the location and operation of the button. Maybe my only job is to help, watch, and encourage.
But every now and then, like the deserted airport, I’m the only one around and am expected to push that button. I’ve never pushed an escalator emergency stop button. What happens? Does it just stop? Do alarms sound? How does it get going again?
Maybe that’s why I don’t push the ‘witnessing-for-Christ’ button. What might happen? Will I be rejected? Will I be made fun of? Will I lose the friendship? I don’t know.
But sometimes it’s better to just push the button and take those chances. Like the guy on the escalator, it could be a matter of life and death. Push the button
Lisa Radcliff is a writer, speaker, women’s Bible study teacher, and a 35-year volunteer youth worker, residing in Pennsburg, PA. She is a wife, mom, and mom-mom who loves God’s Word but also loves football, chocolate, shoes, and Maine. Her hobbies include quilting, shopping, cooking, and raising Seeing Eye puppies. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org