Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Missed Opportunity

As I was cleaning up the kitchen this morning, I was reminded of an incident that happened over three years ago, when we were still living in our apartment. I'm not sure what even reminded me of this event, but I feel inclined to share it with you, which basically means I feel that the Lord wants me to share this story with you. Hopefully it'll will strike a cord with at least one of you out there.

It was probably 8 o'clock one evening. And it was winter, so it was dark. Hubby and I were driving home from somewhere. There was a community of houses and town homes next to several apartment complexes, our complex being one of them. We often drove through a neighborhood to get to our apartment. This particular night as we were driving, we noticed an elderly woman (at least in her late 80's) sitting on the curb. It looked as if she had fallen.

So we pulled over. My heart was pounding. Of course, it's the right thing to pull over to help this woman, but we are also very much taught not trust strangers... Don't pull over for a stranger. Don't trust them. But really this is a 80-year-old woman. What was she going to do? So we pulled over and got out of the car to see if she needed help.

I can't remember our conversation very clearly, mainly because her words were jumbled. Her sentences, when complete, just did not make sense. I do remember understanding that she was walking home from her son's house, which was in the nearby neighborhood, and that he was a doctor. When I heard this, I had to refrain myself from passing judgment on this son of hers who a) let her walk home and b) apparently has a house that she could live in... you'll see why later in the story. Point being - I had to refrain myself from judging. After all, I don't know anything about this son of hers.

Brendon helped her up. We asked her where she lived and if she needed a ride. She nodded, so we helped her into the car and depended on her to guide us to her apartment.

Now if you ever visited our apartment, you know that it turned sketchy the last six months we lived there, as the apartment complex next to us turned into government housing. Enough said. Well, the apartment complex she directed us to was far sketchier. It really resembled for a motel with long stretches of balconies and doors to the outside, with a pool in the center courtyard. I'm not really describing it well because this description could be wonderful, but I'll just say that it wasn't wonderful. It was a place I would never want to live.

We drove up and parked. Should we just let her get out? She clearly had dementia, so that just didn't seem like the right thing to do. So we got out with her. We walked up two flights of stairs, to her apartment, and then into her apartment with her. This could have been totally freaky, but we were trusting the Lord on this.

Her apartment was bare. Sure she had a coffee table, TV, and chair, but other than that it was bare. I started to feel the loneliness this woman must endure daily. What an awful feeling. I wanted so badly to tell her about Jesus, to tell her it would be okay, and to tell her I'm sure her son loves her. I was in an evangelism class at the time (seminary credit). I should be able to tell the gospel to someone easily, right? So why was it so hard? I felt frozen by fear.

That's when this woman went to her fridge and grabbed two hot dogs. No buns. Just the dogs. Then she grabbed a bagel and broke it in half, giving us each a piece, along with the hot dogs. Like I said, this woman's apartment was bare. She gave us all she had to offer us. We tried to politely decline. After all, that was her only food! But she insisted and practically shoved it in our mouths. So we stood there politely and ate.

Then she walked over to her big Bible laying on her table and showed it to me with a picture of Jesus. I can't tell you how I felt at this moment. Ashamed that I couldn't even say His name, yet she could tell me about Him. And also relieved that she knew the Lord. We made conversation with her, asking her about her faith and where she was from. We understood bits and pieces of what she said.

Eventually we left. We told her we'd come back. We meant to. But sadly, it didn't happen. Truthfully, it's not as if she would have remembered anyway. But still.

The Lord taught me a lot that night. He taught me to trust Him. To take advantage of the opportunities He presents. And to give sacrificially.

I don't know why I share this with you. I just feel like God laid it on my heart. A missed opportunity. It makes me sad to think about how many opportunities like this - or more subtle - that I miss. Whether they are chances to share the gospel or to give generously. Don't miss the opportunities He gives.

And I'm double posting this. It'll be on Thankfully Thrifty as well!

3 comments:

  1. What a touching story. And though you remember it as a missed opportunity, I see it as a time when you stepped out in faith to help someone! Not anyone would have stopped, and you even said it made you nervous to do so. Imagine what might have happened to this lady if you hadn't helped her home! Though you may have not directly spoken to her about Jesus, your actions spoke the gospel LOUDLY to her. 1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. Of course, that is not to say that it wouldn't have been great to talk about Jesus with her, or that our words don't mean anything, but I think that what you did is amazing. I am thinking of all the verses in the Bible that command us to help the widows, elderly, and children--those who are in distress. I believe you seized the opportunity to love Jesus by loving her that day.

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  2. Wow, I had chills reading this. That sweet woman. I know I've done this same thing--promising to follow up and then I don't. I hate that. I wish I could be more bold.

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  3. Thanks so much for sharing this, Ashleigh! What a wonderful reminder to seize the opportunities God gives us. I, too, see this as a time you shared the gospel simply by your actions. So many times, actions speak louder than words...cliche or not. She saw Jesus in you all simply by taking that leap of faith and helping her. That thumping in your heart was definitely the Holy Spirit urging you to take that step, which you all did. Thanks for the testimony!

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