She was in the lobby of the medical building, slumped over on a chair, sobbing into her hands. I was going up to the third floor and she was seated right by the elevator. I felt in a nudge in my heart to stop and pray with her. But I was only two minutes away from my appointment and if I stopped, I would be late. It wasn’t worth it, I thought. So I ignored her as she cried, stepped onto the elevator and pushed the button. The doors closed and as her sobs faded as I ascended in the elevator, my heart was broken.
Why did I say no to God this time?
He was clearly asking me to reach out to this woman. I sat in the waiting room, and the doctor was (of course) late calling me back. It had been about five minutes and I couldn’t get this precious woman off my mind. I told the receptionist I would be right back. I stepped into the elevator, pushed the button for the lobby and rode down, heart pounding and praying she would still be there so I could pray with her. The doors opened and there was no sign of her. I had missed my opportunity. All because of fear. Fear of being late, fear of rejection from her (what if she thought I was nuts?) and fear that if her problem was too much, I would make it worse by not knowing what to say.
My last blog was a big confession that got to the root of my “misplaced yes” and my “neglected no”. After I posted my thoughts, I began to clean my kitchen and remembered this day. What if I had actually said yes when God prompted me to pray with her?
But I didn’t say yes that day. Fear was my motivation and landed me in the middle of a missed opportunity! It's interesting to me that fear is what keeps me from saying "No" but it's also what keeps me from saying "Yes"! People pleasing is choosing to please people over God, no matter if it's in saying "yes" for selfish reasons, or saying "no" for selfish reasons.
Let’s take a deeper look at the root of the fears that paralyzed me that day:
Fear of failing. What if I didn’t know what to say? What if I sounded like a dork? Oh, but doesn’t God tell us He will give us the words to speak at times like this? And hasn’t He always done that in the past? Yeah, that excuse doesn’t float.
Fear of judgment. What if she thought I was nuts? Yeah, she might. So what? But let’s be honest. How many times have you asked someone if you could pray with them in the middle of a serious heartbreak and they said no? I have a feeling she wouldn’t have thought I was nuts. She might have actually appreciated it. But if not, at least I've been obedient to what God asked me to do. I've actually learned that my job is obedience. God's job is to take care of the outcome of that obedience. Another bum excuse.
Fear of commitment. What if she needed more from me? What if she was a life-sucker who cries at everything and looks at life’s glass as half-empty? Maybe she always cries. Maybe she is a martyr and nothing I could say would help? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I know God prompted me to pray for her. There is no doubt about it. I trust that if He gives me an opportunity, He will equip me for it and whatever commitments may stem from it. How can I know her motives or her heart? I don't even know her! Yet another lame excuse.
Fear of being late and disappointing the physician’s office staff. This is valid I suppose. When we give our word that we will be somewhere, we should always keep our word. But we also need to remember that Jesus, many times, reprimanded people because they kept the law before they loved. Law over love never works. In retrospect, I believe with all of my heart that God would have taken care of me as I took care of her. This excuse doesn’t float, either.
If I feel I should say yes, but say no out of fear, I’m going to miss out on a blessing. The great thing about God is that He won’t miss an opportunity to reach out to others at all, but if I am not obedient, I miss out on that blessing of being used by God to reach someone’s heart. He will find someone else, who is willing, to do the work. He's God!
My prayer is that someone said "yes" to God that day at the physician's office. I know it wasn’t me. I missed my chance, I missed the blessing. But God’s heart was to comfort that precious woman and I pray He found someone who was not afraid to reach out to her and share His love and concern for her broken heart. In the meantime, He taught me that opportunities come and go. And I want to go where He leads. I don’t want to be left wondering, “What if?” ever again! God doesn't waste your mistakes. If you ask Him, He will show you the better way. Let love be your highest goal!
Three things will last forever - faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13