Opportunity Lost (almost)

Opportunity Lost (almost)

January 1, the dawn of a new year, an opportunity for a fresh start; sure it is all a mental exercise, but half of the battle is getting ourselves into the right frame of mind.  Many people say they don’t believe in setting a New Year’s Resolution, but I think it is because of their fear of failure.  Every year I resolve to or as I prefer to say, set goals regarding personal improvement.  They always include eating and weight reduction after the decadent indulgences during the holidays, but I also like to include economic and spiritual disciplines.

This morning during my morning devotions, I asked God to help me with what I consider my most important resolution for the year, allowing God to work through me every day.  After praying and reading a biblical passage for the day, I was off to purchase the necessary props to help me with another resolution.  Then it happened at the Wal-Mart deli counter.

I walked up to the deli counter with an absent-minded smile on my face.  The smile was because there was no one else at the deli counter, the absent-mindedness because I was thinking about taking down all the Christmas decorations and what a relief it would be to finish that chore.  I told the clerk I wanted a pound of smoked turkey and promptly receded into my swirling thoughts.  Without missing a beat, the clerk said she couldn’t wait until 2:00 so she could go to the hospital to see her mother.  For a moment, my mind couldn’t connect deli turkey, 2:00, and a complete stranger’s mother.  Thank God for those times the Holy Spirit takes over.  I asked why her mother was in the hospital.  After she told me her mother was suffering from lung cancer and was having a very hard time breathing and I told her how sorry I was that she had to start the New Year in this way.  She continued to tell me how scared and worried she was.  I had enough presence of mind to ask her mother’s name and tell her I would pray for her.  I took my packaged turkey from the counter, turned to move on to the cottage cheese, noticing the tears in her eyes and feeling pretty good about offering to pray for her and her mother.

As I moved down the produce aisle, I realized the Holy Spirit wasn’t done.  I was reminded of my sincere prayer this morning to be a willing vessel.  But, I was busy, I had decorations waiting to be put away, the store was so busy and I didn’t want to embarrass her.  I continued to the dairy section, but the Holy Ghost wouldn’t leave me alone.  This could be an opportunity, one moment in time to help a hurting soul.  I frantically searched my purse for a church business card and hurried to the store to the deli counter.  My new friend was nowhere to be seen.  Kicking myself, I finished shopping, all the while praying for Joyce and her daughter, hoping that would soothe my stinging conscience.

Finished shopping, I approached the checkout lane. I could see my new friend assisting another customer at the deli counter.  With the card in hand, I passed up the checkout, approached the deli counter and waited and waited.  Finally, I gently told her I would not only pray for her but offered Steve’s services as a minister and invited her to our Sunday service.  I’m not sure if it will impact her in the way it did me, but I do know that if I had failed to be obedient, I would have missed an opportunity.

Opportunities have limited lives. Once the moment has passed, the opportunity may never present itself again.  You may never get the chance to be in that situation, with that person and be the one God has appointed to speak words of hope.  I will pray for Joyce and make it a point to frequent the deli counter as a follow up to a God-ordained opportunity that was almost lost.

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