Have you ever regretted not taking an opportunity to share your time, your gifts, or most of all, love, compassion and kindness?
I have more times than I can count, but I’m learning to take notice of God’s prompting. One lesson was the most difficult and remain and hurt the most. I missed the opportunity to say goodbye to a friend.
She was a ray of sunshine. I first met her when I moved to our small town and began attending our little church. Her snow white hair framed her weathered face, and her glittering eyes made you smile just to look at her. Her laugh was the best. It sounded like five-year-old girl’s giggle.
She loved everybody and hugged everyone and held their hands when she talked to them. I always looked for her at church and made a beeline to say hello maybe just to feel the warmth of her unconditional love. So did most everyone else in the church. She did not show favoritism with her love.
My beloved friend had more reason to be sad than exude so much joy. Born before the turn of the century, she watched the world go through incredible changes and experienced two world wars. Her husband died decades before we met and she lost children to illness. She had many reasons to be sorrowful; instead, she was the picture of joy.
Although she was well into her 90’s, she mowed her yard and planted flowers in the spring and stayed as active as someone half her age–until her body could go no more. She became home bound and I missed seeing her at church but drove by her house every day on the way to work.
I stopped once or twice to say hello, and each time she greeted me like she hadn’t seen me in decades. I stayed a few minutes but had to rush. Things to do, you know.
Over the next weeks, she became increasingly weaker. I heard through other church friends that she stopped eating and slept most of the day.
“I should go by and say hello before it’s too late,” I told myself.
I didn’t stop, and in just days it was too late.
She had gone home to be with Jesus.
I missed the opportunity to say goodbye. I missed the chance to tell her how much she meant to me. I regretted not obeying God’s prompting.
Have you missed opportunities?
There are several examples in scripture of those who missed opportunities. The people who laughed at and scorned Noah until they needed to get on the boat missed an opportunity. Of the two thieves at Calvary, one believed and the other lost a chance to believe in Jesus.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we see two religious men miss an opportunity, and one unlikely man stop to seize the opportunity.
A man robbed of everything lies beaten and dying on the side of the road. Two religious men pass without stopping to help. One crosses the path to the other side. Maybe they are busy, afraid they would be made unclean or inconvenienced. Then the Samaritan, the one least likely to stop and give aid, was moved by compassion and stopped. He cared for the man, bandaging his wounds, putting him on his animal and taking him to a nearby inn to recuperate and paid for his care (Luke 10:30-37).
Like the Samaritan, how can we be alert to opportunities to show compassion and the love of Christ?
Be sensitive to God’s whispers. There must have been a hundred times that I drove by my friend’s house or thought of her. Looking back I know there were whispers from God to stop for a moment. Instead, I ignored the nudges and kept driving. To avoid missed opportunities, we need to recognize God’s prompting and immediately obey. Author Andy Stanley made the statement in his book, Visioneering, “We don’t need to pray for more miracles, we just need to be more sensitive to the opportunities that God brings our way.”
When we hear the nudge or whisper, God needs us to respond immediately. He has something good for us when we obey.
And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers,
you will surely be rewarded.
Matthew 10:412 NLT
Lay aside your comfort. Obedience is not always comfortable. It’s the opposite. How many times have we instructed our children to do something that was beneficial to them but instead they preferred to stay in bed or on the couch or playing in the yard? We want to be comfortable but serving and loving others is not comfortable. Our ultimate example of obedience was never convenient, yet He always took an opportunity to share compassion. He is the friend of those who obey His example.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
John 15:14 ESV
Don’t be afraid. There are hundreds of scriptures where God reminds us not to be frightened, yet that is precisely what we do. We walk away in fear from opportunities that look beyond our ability. When we are called, guided or nudged by God to do something, it might be hard. However, God promises to be our strength.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 ESV
I regret not taking the opportunity to spend a few more minutes with my friend. I miss her so much. In the future, though, I pray we accept the prodding from God, to act according to his will, not our comfort and stop to show compassion.
The rewards are greater than the regret.
Father forgive us for walking past so many opportunities to show compassion. Heighten our sensitivity to your whispers and the strength to obey immediately. Thank you for the perfect example through Jesus of how to show love and kindness. Amen.
Photo by Harry Miller on Unsplash
Photo by Lucie Hošová on Unsplash