This is probably the hardest post for me yet. It is about very important opportunities in life that you should never let pass you by….yet I have. And I’m not proud of that fact. I think it is important that I share this. Maybe it can help others. Maybe it can even help me.
When I was in high school, I rode the handicapped bus to and from school because my brother, Timothy, was in a wheelchair. I sat on the bus every day near a boy about 2 years younger than Timothy who had muscular dystrophy just like Timothy did. I knew the disease and knew it was terminal. While still in his early teens this little boy unexpectedly passed away due to his disease. It wasn’t until then that I realized that I had missed the opportunity to tell him about Jesus. I had at least a half hour ride each way to school every day. Why did I not step out of my shell to share something worth coming out of my shell for?
About ten years ago while on a mission trip to Colorado, I was assigned to a small church in a very small town. My missions partner and I led a children’s program in the park, which included a Bible lesson and a time of singing. One day I encountered a pre-teen girl there whom I had never met. I talked to her and felt the Spirit nudging me to share Him with her. But we parted without me saying a word to her about the Heavenly Father. I felt awful, and the awful feeling grew as the evening wore on. It was dusky when I got back where I was to sleep, so I decided to search for the girl the next day at the park. After searching for a long time and keeping my eyes open for her until I had to go home from the trip, I had to face the fact that I had missed the opportunity to speak to her about the most important Person ever!! The opportunity was not likely to come again.
One of my pastor’s points Sunday was something that I have always struggled with. The tongue is a very strong weapon that can be used to harm others if we are not careful. I had also read James 3 earlier in the week. Evidently it did not go very far into my brain, or more importantly, into my heart. Tonight I got into an argument with a total stranger in the bathroom at Wal-Mart because my 3 year old looked under the bathroom stall door at her. She did not know he was so young at first and was extremely upset about it, but I could have eased her emotions by smiling and pointing out his age and the fact that he meant nothing by it (and was only looking under because I asked myself out loud if anyone was in that particular stall). Instead I matched her mood with my own, and was very rude to her (in front of my children, I might add).
As soon as she left the bathroom, I felt God say, “Tabetha, you knew better than that and should not have done it.” Too bad I didn’t listen a little sooner. I was so busy beating up on what I perceived to be my enemy to hear His voice! I ended up siding with the enemy (Satan), instead. I searched all over the store several times for her, but she was not to be found. I had, yet again, missed an opportunity. I sat the kids down right there in the store and told them that my behavioir had been wrong, that I had been a bad example, and that I had very possibly ruined my testimony for Christ to that woman.
As I shopped, I kept finding myself muttering, “I can’t believe I let this happen again.” I have cried and prayed multiple times, but you know what? That opportunity very likely will not come again. I blew it again – even with God’s reminders to watch my tongue earlier in the week!
While I know there are several lessons to be learned from these three instances, the most important one is probably this: Listen when God speaks to you or nudges you in a certain direction, especially when it involves sharing Him with others. Some opportunites only come once. In all three of these stories, someone missed out on an opportunity to hear about a loving God who could change his/her life for the better….because of me.
I hope you never find yourself in this situation. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes. If you ever do find yourself in a situation similar to the ones above, please do not forget that there is one thing that can still be done. Pray! Pray! Pray for that person! Even if God never uses me to reach the two remaining people mentioned above, He could still send someone else into their paths. “Oh, Lord, let it be so. I know I failed, but please don’t allow them to suffer such a severe punishment due to my disobedience! Help them to open their hearts to you.”
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