My departure was detained by a young woman leaving the store. At first I didn't see why she was walking so slowly. Completely immersed in my own little world, I was unaware of her need. Upon closer observation I realized she was pushing a baby stroller with one hand, while pulling a fully loaded cart with the other. A human "train" so to speak. She obviously was doing some Christmas shopping and had been more fortunate than I by the appearance of the shopping carts contents.
As she headed towards the parking lot struggling to keep all her treasures within her grasp, a thought filled my mind. Joy, offer to help her. Immediately that idea was dismissed. The kind gesture was counteracted, convincing me such an act would be foolish. I reasoned that she would refuse my help. These days everyone is skeptical of others who offer their services. She would be concerned about 'stranger danger'. She certainly wouldn't allow me to push her stroller, and I questioned, would she trust me with hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise? Offering to help would only make her nervous. She was handling everything alright. I should just leave her alone.
I turned a blind eye. I chose not to see. I walked to my car. Unlocked the door. Sat inside. Glanced quickly back. Then it happened. As she tried to maneuver it all over the curb, the shopping cart swayed and several of her items fell to the pavement. Frustration and exhaustion were written all over her face. As she picked up the skillet, looking for dents, I could almost hear her sigh and see the tear. How could she do it all? Care for an infant, shop, look after all the details of Christmas, and in this unbelievably cold weather too. Surely her baby would rather be at home sleeping in a cozy crib, but she had gifts to buy and time was running out. So much needed to be done. She was so weary.
And there I sat. In a warm car. Opportunity missed. Stricken with guilt gut.
The image of her face at that moment still haunts me. My heart is aching with my own selfishness. I can't turn back time. How I wish I could.
Yes, I know many of you would have helped without hesitation. You would have even gone the second mile, loading her car, returning her cart, making Jesus visible. I made a wrong decision. No excuses. No justifying. Just remorse.
Oh Lord, how I pray it’s not too late. Please don’t give up on me. I don’t want to live a life that is shy of Your best for me. Please forgive me for the many times I have not obeyed Your voice. I can’t go back, but I can move forward. Help me become someone You can turn to and say, “I’ll ask Joy. She embraces My plans for her, trusts Me and steps out in faith.”
I had felt compelled to go to this store, yet I didn't purchase one thing or understand the promptings neccessity. I believe now that God placed me there for the purpose of being His hands and feet to a young mom in need, but instead of letting her meet Jesus in an over crowded parking lot, I said 'no' and walked away. And so tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, and all my tomorrow's, I will be looking for that one in need. For the weary and wounded. For the broken and betrayed. For the forgotten and forsaken. For the lonely and the loveless. For the abused and abandoned. For the busy and the burdened. For the harried and the harassed. For whoever God places in my path. I will listen for His voice. I will risk rejection. I will face fear. I will combat complacency. I will choose Christlikeness. I will live loud. I will say 'yes'. I hope....
What about you?
"Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity." Colossians 4:5 (TLB)