I was walking across the street the other day, and I remembered blue tuxedo man. It was years ago that I met him on a balmy summer day. My friend, Daphne, had decided to try a Christian dating service. This was back when the internet was used by people in the military only, and there was no dot com to meet your every need.
She was excited. He seemed like a real love connection, and we waited, all giggly and girly, for prince charming to arrive.
He was about 5 feet tall and wide, and he was wearing a powder blue tuxedo. With royal blue, velvet trim. And enormous lapels. And a ruffled white tuxedo shirt, that had that same royal, velvet trim on the ruffles. Even in 1971, 10 years after this tuxedo's finest hour, it would have been an atrocity. And now it was well into the 80's, and speaking of 80's, it must have been 85 degrees outside, and poor blue tuxedo man was sweating profusely. Daphne decided to pass on this one.
As he was leaving a little later, I saw him. I was waiting for a bus at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Middlebelt Road. This is a busy intersection, and I was on the opposite side of the street from blue tuxedo man. The traffic signal turned to "Walk", and blue tuxedo man proceeded to cross the street. Now, Michigan Avenue is a wide street on this part of town, with four lanes of blazing traffic. About half-way through, the light began to flash the red "Don't Walk", and I watched as blue tuxedo man ran like he was on fire to get back safely to the side of the street he'd just walked away from. I was puzzled. The "Don't Walk" signal stopped blinking, and the traffic passed, and when it was through, I watched the cycle start over again. The signal turned to "Walk" and he'd get about half-way across the street. The signal would blink "Don't Walk" and he'd tear back to the curb. Again, and again.
He'd tried to change his strategy a few times, and get across the street really fast, but that darned "Don't Walk" would blink on and off again, and no matter how fast he was, he just couldn't beat it.
When I could take no more of this painful exercise, I crossed the street to go to him.
"Do you need some help?"
"Praise the Lord, sister. I'm just trying to cross the street."
"What's the problem?" I was genuinely concerned.
"The light keeps changing."
"I know, but when it's blinking it's just warning you it will change to "Don't Walk" soon, so you won't dilly dally getting across the street."
He was appalled by my ignorance. "Oh, no sister. The scriptures say to obey the law of the land."
I stood staring at him, confused. "But...but, you're not breaking any laws. It's just a warning light."
"Sister, it says 'don't walk' and I have to obey."
I shook my head, my heart breaking. "You'll never cross this street, because it always changes in the middle."
Blue Tuxedo man thanked me, and walked down Michigan Avenue, maybe to find an intersection that was a little friendlier. I fretted over him. I worried how he'd make it home--how he'd make it in this world where lights change right in the middle. I wondered when the burden of the law would break his back. I wondered why this Christian gentleman, who'd caught a bus in the middle of the summer, wearing a tuxedo just to impress his girl--I wondered why he didn't know enough about grace to cross an intersection.
I pray for blue tuxedo man, wherever he is in this world. May you know the One who fulfilled the Law for love alone, so that we can all cross on over to the other side.
On the grace filled side of the street,