“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden." - Matthew 5:14 (NIV)
I used to think I was too old and mature to fall into peer pressure, but now I know that even adults can give into things they don’t necessarily agree with.
One evening in New York City, I went out to dinner with some friends who I haven’t seen in a while. When it was time to go home, we all said our goodbyes, and then I walked with one of my friends to the train station.
You’d probably think I wasn’t a true New Yorker because I didn't have my MetroCard in my hand by the time I got to the turnstile—I had to search through my bag to find it. My friend (who’s always prepared) swiped her card and was waiting impatiently for me on the other side of the turnstile.
All of sudden, she yells, “Your train is coming!” And I started panicking as if that was the last train coming for the night. It wasn’t. Where in the world is my MetroCard?
My friend saw me struggling to find my card and didn't want to miss her train, so she went to the exit door, opened it, and told me to come in that way. I paused for a moment. Should I go through the exit door? I mean, I do have an unlimited MetroCard (somewhere) that was already paid for, so it’s not like I’m not paying.
My train was coming, it was late, and I wanted to go home. So I went through the exit door. I then ran down the stairs to the train platform just in time to slide through the closing doors of the train.
A few seconds later, the doors opened back up and a police officer got on the train. He told me to come with him. Me? What did I do? I was confused for about two seconds, and then I realized he pulled me off the train because I went through the exit door instead of swiping my card.
On the way back up the stairs, the police officer explained to me that I just broke the law, and I’ll have to pay a fine. Bummer.
When we got to the top of the stairs, there was an undercover cop waiting for us. She saw the entire situation, and I was embarrassed that I did something so dumb. “I have an unlimited MetroCard but I got nervous because I didn’t want to miss my train,” I explained to the officers.
After a few moments of searching through my bag again, I found my MetroCard and showed it to them. “You can check my card to see that I’m telling the truth.” They didn’t even bother checking it.
The officers decided not to give me a fine and told me that I need to make sure that I always swipe my card. They explained that it's considered stealing if I don't swipe even if I have the money on the card.
I told them that I would never do that again. I learned my lesson.
On the ride home, I thought about something my grandma always used to say to me before I left town. Without fail, she would say, “Remember who you are and whose you are.”
There will be many situations in life that will test your character, but always remember who you are, a child of God and the light of the world.
Every day you’re faced with many different decisions—some are easy and some are tough. Always take a moment to ask yourself if someone would be drawn to Christ by what you are about to say or do.
If the answer is no, make a better decision.
Whether you like it or not, people are watching what you do and say. If they aren’t, God is. I knew that I was making the wrong decision by going through the exit door, but I let my emotions get the best of me. And because of my impatience, I wound up getting home later than I would've if I just took the time to find my MetroCard.
Even if it may be a challenge, don’t let your emotions cause you to make an impulsive decision. Sometimes you may have to take the inconvenient or uncomfortable road, but if that road allows you to be a light to others, take it.
Be a light everywhere you go and in every circumstance. And always remember who you are and whose you are.
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**This message was originally posted on 8/27/2019 and updated on 2/23/21