The instructions are clear. If you choose the moving sidewalk at the airport, you need to step carefully on and off. If you want to stand on the moving sidewalk, please stand on the right, so that others may pass you on the left. I think this is good counsel. After all, they are SIDEWALKS, not SIDESTANDS. So if you want to stand, at least stand to the side so that the walkers can actually MOVE on the MOVING sideWALK. The calm and soothing voice of the announcement that plays over and over is non-confrontational, polite, and instructive.
If this same announcement played in other parts of the country, it might sound different. I grew up in South Jersey, where I imagine it would sound a little more assertive. Think The Sopranos-assertive. If Tony Soprano recorded the announcement it could sound like, “YO! Youze are on the moving SIDEWALK. I SAID SIDEWALK, as in MOVE A-SIDE so that others can WALK. What bozo doesn’t know to move ovuh? WHADDYAZ think this is, the turnpike for cryin’ out loud?? Ah, fuhgeddaboutit.”
Traveling through the magnificent Atlanta airport recently, I encountered several opportunities to observe the moving sidewalks. They connect the ticketing lobbies, baggage claims, and all of the terminals, spanning miles. If I have time, I prefer to walk on the non-moving concourse, but the sidewalks are a good alternative if you have just enough time to use them, and you don’t have to default to the train. You just hope that you can move forward quickly and people won’t get in your way. ATL is huge, with multiple concourses. It processes about 300,000 people a day. A DAY. That’s a lot of moving sidewalk violations right there.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes about moving sidewalks. OK, he writes about metaphorical moving sidewalks:
Philippians 3 (The Message)
Focused on the Goal
13-14 Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
15-16 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
17-18 Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street.
Paul encourages us to keep moving forward with our eyes on the goal. He warns us that others, who are looking for the easy sidewalk, will block us and stand in our way. But we are to walk forward and NOT TURN BACK.
I know a woman who is struggling with two significant family relationships. She can’t move forward with the situation as it is, and so she has addressed it with them. They are a stumbling block to her, blocking her spirit, her joy, and her goal of pursuing a life that reflects her relationship with God. She has chosen sobriety, while they have chosen to take other paths. She has chosen honesty, while they have chosen avoidance. As she keeps her eye on the way forward, she has no choice but to not look back. If she were to do so, she would surely fall off the moving sidewalk.
Does this resonate with you? Is God calling you to a way forward that means you have to leave the past behind? Is God inviting you to pursue him at the cost of everything else? Do you need to shed toxic relationships in order to attain the goal of the abundant life offered by Christ?
Wherever your moving sidewalk is headed, step on with care. Keep your eyes always looking forward. Carefully make your way around others who try to block your progress. And no matter what, don’t look back.
Passing on the Left in Concourse B.