Monday, March 14, 2011

Lost Opportunity

There is an image etched in my memory from the early 1970's that when I recall it, it stabs my heart. In 1971, I had just begun working for a large bank. Each morning as I walked to work down the main street, I passed a lady (perhaps then in her thirties) sitting in a wheelchair. Every workday and year round, she sat in front of a department store next to the bank. It is the wintertime scene that is imprinted in my mind.

She was dressed in shabby clothes with a blanket across her lap. Her long thin fingers, rough and red from the winter cold, clutched a small can filled with pencils. I remember watching as many business people rushed into the store to buy their morning coffee and pastry at the lunch counter and then hurry past her without even glancing her way. Occasionally someone would toss a coin into her tin can and she'd smile and give a hearty thank you.

I thought to myself, 'What a sad way to earn a living?' In my youthful ignorance I contemplated many times of buying a pencil from her but I didn't need one and I really didn't have much money myself - maybe tomorrow. Then one day she was gone.

It was then I realized the point and the opportunity I had missed. I suffered with the all-too-common "I Syndrome". I didn't have much money because I had just started working. I didn't need a pencil. I thought she'd be there tomorrow. I simply pitted her.

Today, I understand it would have been good for both of us, if I had bought a pencil from her now and then, smiled at her, spoken to her, perhaps even bought a cup of hot coffee for her. God had presented an opportunity for me. I thoughtlessly tossed it aside. A small good deed would have meant a lot to one in need yet I foolishly thought tomorrow - someday - when I have some money - I will help.

Someday is now.

Matthew 25:45

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Just Around The Bend

The highway wound through the dense forest. Deep ditches hugged the road. For miles I drove without seeing anyone; pedestrians, cyclists, cars or trucks.

The car was gobbling gas. When the gas gauge died a few years ago, I began relying on the trip meter for estimated gas consumption readings. Although I could guess the distance the car would travel before running out of fuel, I had no idea how much further it was to my destination or if there was a gas station along the way.

A young black bear sat on the side of the road, playing contently like a child.

Apprehensively I continued driving, wondering how much further to my destination. I wanted to see the lighthouse at the end of the road. As I approached each curve I thought 'It must be right after this curve.' But after each curve there was disappointment. On the approach of the next curve again my hopes heightened. And after the curve, disappointment.

I had to abandon my lighthouse search. Fuel was getting low. I turned the car around and headed back to the main highway, hoping I had enough fuel to drive to the first gas station on the main route.

On the return trip, I passed the same young black bear. He was still contently playing beside the highway. He didn't appear to have any concerns; he was satisfied where he was at the moment. I, on-the-other-hand, had been rushing to see something only to retreat in dismay. I hadn't enjoyed the trip but instead anxiously eyed the trip meter.

Life is much like that highway through the forest. We hope for something good just around the bend. If that something doesn't materialize, we are disappointed and often give up hope and abandon our dreams. But when we walk in God's will, we are assured of hope, peace and dreams fulfilled because He said, "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 NIV