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Chris Carpenter
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Random Acts of Kindness Beverly Hills Style

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - “Would you like any morning coffee sir?”

“Excuse me?”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. After all it was 6am on a Sunday morning in Beverly Hills. I was completing four arduous days of meetings and interviews and was just interested in getting to the airport and winging my way home. But from the outset my conscious told me there was something different about this cab driver.

Diminutive in stature, this gentleman sporting an Elvis Presley hairdo, seemed to be nothing like the haughty, sometimes careless driver who had spoken less words than near accidents just four days before. Something about him seemed genuine; he possessed a realness that you don’t experience much anymore, especially when you are steps away from the infamous Rodeo Drive.

“No thanks, I will just get something at the airport,” I countered. I chalked up his apparent act of kindness to the fact that he was picking me up at the legendary Beverly Wilshire Hotel. He probably thought I was someone rich, important, or somewhere in between.

We rolled through the shady palms of Beverly Hills for several minutes in silence. The sun was just starting to creep over the San Gabriel Mountains to the east, a wondrous display despite the smog that was beginning to hover in the musky morning air.

“What a beautiful morning. Do you agree sir?” said my cab driver, interrupting my self-imposed journey of random thoughts.

“Huh?” I stammered. “I’m sorry I didn’t hear you. What did you say?” I leaned forward so that I could hear him better, an exaggerated gesture of apology for sure.

“It is a beautiful morning. Of course every morning is beautiful.”

“I heard on the late news that some rain is supposed to come into the area tomorrow,” I fired back immediately, without even realizing that I was subconsciously deflating his sentiments.”

He replied, “Every morning is beautiful rain or shine.”

I smiled, not because I agreed with him but because I realized he was my “divine appointment”. God was speaking to me through him. Earlier in the week, I had boarded a plane bound for what I believed would be several days of egotistical, narcissistic, movie meanderings of actors promoting their films.

Prior to my departure, as I was lamenting my plight to a colleague, he suggested that perhaps God had a divine appointment for me that had nothing to do with the official reason I was going. My response was classic Chris: I laughed and sarcastically quipped, “Yeah, right.”

But here I sat, a stranger in a strange land, riding through the streets of Los Angeles early on a Sunday morning, completely removed from all the comfort zones I had previously constructed around myself. I was listening to someone who was not part of “my world” speak words of truth that I desperately needed to hear.

It was obvious my cabbie was a glass half full person while I had succumbed over the years to become a cynical, glass half empty fool.

“Sir, where are you from?” asked the cab driver, as he offered me some fruit from his lunch bag.

Shaking my head to decline his generous offer, I replied, “Virginia.”

“A beautiful place I am sure.”

“Some parts of it are.”

“I am sure all parts of your state are beautiful in someone’s eyes.”

“I suppose you are right.”

Now he really had me thinking. It seemed that for every negative thought I had, he was extracting only positive elements. Had I really sunk this far in my curmudgeonly asylum of cynicism?

As we got closer to the airport I couldn’t help but notice the neighborhoods becoming seedier and seedier. Crystallizing my observation was the sight of “Nude Film World”, an emporium trafficking in sinful pursuits. The parking lot was packed and it wasn’t even 7am yet.

I considered commenting on this sordid place of business but something inside me said stop. After all, what could my eternally optimistic chauffeur possibly say to form a positive spin on such a venue?

Before I could shake such notions of negativity, we pulled up to a stop light. Standing forlornly on the median strip beside us was a homeless man. Dirty to the core, this shabbily attired denizen of the streets looked back at me through hollow eyes, without a shred of hope for a better tomorrow.

Just as I began to consider what could have possibly happened to this man for him to sink to such depths of poverty, I heard the rattle and hum of the cab’s electric window. Shifting my focus from the destitute man to the sound’s source, I discovered that my cab driver was handing $10 dollars through the window to him.

As we sped away, I said, “That was very kind of you.”

He replied, “Some people need just a little bit more help than others.”

“Do you do this often?”

“There is someone there every day who needs help,” he countered. “Yes, I do.”

It was official. The eternal pessimist was succumbing to the ways of the eternal optimist. Everything about this guy made sense. He was a missionary agency of one driving the emotionally jaded streets of Los Angeles. In his own very small way, this cab driver was making a positive difference in many lives, including mine, by loving his neighbors as himself.

This is a very basic principal for sure and it is also the root of all Christianity. My cab driver with the Elvis Presley hairdo is living what Jesus Christ implored us all to do. Love others the same way we would love ourselves. Nothing more, nothing less. It is a very simple lesson but one we all must aspire to. So why aren’t we doing it?

Scripture is very clear about it.

In Matthew 22:37-39 it says, “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

God’s love doesn’t wither from the harsh realities of daily living but grows stronger with time. We choose to love God and our neighbors because of his example of loving us and our desire to please Him. The true love of God is only possible because of the love of God that should be in us.

With my bags now sitting on the curb at LAX, cash in hand, I couldn’t resist asking my “divine appointment” the following question.

“Do you know Jesus Christ?”

“Yes, he is my friend.”

I thought so.

Portions contained within this article from the Transformer Study Bible.

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