“And the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’.” – Matthew 25:40 (NKJV)
So, November 2nd was my 57th birthday. My last day being 56 had its high points and low points. After my doctor’s appointment in town earlier, I had the blessing of being led to the Waffle House, where my pastor’s wife’s dear parents were just leaving.
Her mother has been in the hospital. They are precious to us all, and they have weathered a lot of storms. So, after speaking with them and praying with them before they left, I stayed at their table and had a little breakfast and devotional time. What a treat to run into them. It really brightened my day. But that was only the calm before the storm…
As if right on cue, after I’d almost finished eating and reading my devotions, some people came in with an elderly gentleman. I could tell they were having a bit of a rough time with him. Sadly, I let my guard down and just got up, paid, and left without being the more compassionate light of Christ that I should have been. I’d been focused more on my quiet experience being ruined, rather than being willing to just tighten it up and perhaps offer a little encouragement. I felt so bad about it for the rest of the day that it began to just eat away at me like a cancer. Before I realized what I had done, I had let my “mask” slip off. Only after I had left did I realize what a hypocrite I had just been. I had just betrayed my Master. I’d been tested, and I had failed.
As I drove home, I prayed my humble prayer of repentance to God and asked Him for a chance to make it up to Him. In the next few minutes, I got my prayer answered. As I pulled into my parking space at home, He laid it strongly on my heart to go on to the Walgreen’s to pick up my prescriptions, seeing as I tapped into the app, that they were ready.
It was on the way back home that it happened. I don’t like trying to get out onto Main St. in our little “Mayberry” town of Benson via the road beside McDonald’s as it’s practically impossible, so I will often drive around a back way. So, on my way back, I drove past the park and pulled up to the stop sign just in time to look over and see a man get hit by a woman coming out the back driveway from the McDonald’s. Who knows what could have been distracting her that she didn’t see him. I certainly was in no position to point fingers at her.
I watched as he fell and hit the pavement. I quickly pulled over off the road and ran over there to see if I could help. In just that few minutes after it happened, people came together, trying to calm him and see about him as the ambulance was called and the police arrived to direct traffic. I did the only thing I knew I had been sent to do. I knelt down and spoke to him reassuringly, as the others were doing, trying to keep him calm and still as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. Then I began to pray for him. As the emergency workers arrived and took over, I quietly eased back into the background and left them to do their job. My job was done, and my prayer answered.
Now, stepping into my 57th year on this earth, I can clearly look back and see the ways, the Father has provided these “training experiences” to help me and guide me on my journey to greater spiritual maturity. Lesson learned. I’m sharing this because I have a feeling, I am not the only one who has had one or more of these slip ups. We are human. We all mess up. We have all failed at one time or other. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But thankfully, we have a loving Heavenly Father Who is ready to forgive us and welcome us with open arms if we are only willing to humbly acknowledge our wrong, repent of it, and receive the forgiveness His Son, Jesus Christ died to give us. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
So, I messed up. As we all have. But if you’re still breathing, it’s not too late to make a turn around. Now, as the Thanksgiving and Christmas season approaches, I am sure we will be seeing a lot more of these hurting and less fortunate people. Y’all, this is the stuff miracles are made of. But the enemy wants us to be all wrapped up in ourselves, or with our noses stuck in our phones, and miss them.
I speak to myself on this, as well as for all of us, when I say, we can do better. I know I can. If He places them in our path, it’s because He sees the potential in us to somehow be a blessing to them. We will always fail Him when we make it about ourselves, as I did that day. It’s not about us. It’s about learning, as we mature in Him spiritually, to rejoice when He sends us someone to bless.
So, maybe we can all work together and help each other with this. We will fail sometimes. But it’s when we are willing to admit it and let Him help us learn from it that we will be blessed in greater ways than we could ever imagine. So, let’s look up from our distractions, especially this busy holiday season, and pay attention to that pedestrian who may be homeless or unable to drive (because we all know it could have just as easily been one of us behind that wheel instead of her). Let’s pray for others instead of judging them (see Matthew 7:1-5). And let’s look for ways to be a blessing to the hurting around us (as I should have done), instead of merely seeing them as interruptions to our busy schedules or our “quiet time”. In being obedient to Him when He gave me a second chance, He showed me that I was not the only one who failed Him that day. And just like that, I felt a year’s worth of spiritual maturity as I woke up to my 57th year on this earth the next morning.
This season, and always, may we all be more “instant in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2) and strive to not only love those in our own little “glory huddles” (quote credit: Cara Whitney, Author, “Unbridled Faith: 100 Devotions from the Horse Farm”), but also those poor, hurting souls He places in our path. In Matthew 5:46-48, Jesus said, “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
May we humbly seek His readily available grace and forgiveness when we fail. Most importantly, may we never forget that our gracious and loving Father will always give us another chance when we ask Him. After all, some of our greatest blessings and unexpected gifts in this life often come in disguise. You won’t miss them if you look in the right places. They’re the ones that can’t be wrapped.