I just settled down on the couch and opened a book my niece, Paige, had loaned me: Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed. I've gotten 3 & 1/3rd pages into the text. Right there is where the regret flooded over me. Regret for missed opportunities.
Oh, I often listen to that small voice, that nudge, whatever and do the small thing. The call, the card, the word, etc. And there have been numerous times I've shrugged them right off and gone about my day, my business, my way. Who knows what wonders I missed.....but these aren't the times I am convicted of, here and now.
Today, it is those times that only come every now and then.....when the request seems bigger, bolder. It comes and catches you completely off guard. It's out of character for you. Out of the normal. It stretches and pulls your comfort zone. And even while you mind is rushing with a thousand reasons why it won't make sense, why it will never work, why only a fool would.....there is excitement building in your being. I think it is your soul flapping it's wings and preparing to soar!
Let me share with you the two times that The Spirit brought quickly to mind that break my heart.....two times I was invited to soar and said "no." The first was back in the first couple of years of my coming back to Christ. I was stay at home Mama with Bubba and Pete was working as a pusher in the oilfield. I was going to the church I was Baptized in at age 11.
There was a couple there that had been there from my first day there. Leva and Bo Ross. They were getting on up in years. I loved them. They were a part of the originals who started with a small country church and grew it into a thriving, ministering, mission minded church. Leva was forthright and had an amusing almost childlike quality about her. Any group or study with her present was richer for it. Bo was a quiet, disciplined disciple of God. Just a country boy at heart. Not a redneck, a country boy. There is a difference.
Once at a church covered dish dinner, Bo sought me out from amongst the throng to compliment my fried cornbread and ask for the recipe. Hadn't ate it since Mama had cooked it. This blessed my heart. For the only reason I brought fried cornbread was a financial one. It was all I had that I could prepare.
Bo lost Leva. It was sudden. He seemed lost and lonely. Solid in his faith, but lost as to what to do with the days. I'm sure she had been one of those ladies who met his every household need. Doubt is he knew the washing machine, or even the stove.
It weighed heavy on my heart for a week or two to invite him to have supper with us one night. He lived only a few blocks away by city measure. I could see him appreciating the food and the conversation. I could see him finding common ground with Pete. But I made one excuse after another as to why not to do it. For one thing, money was very tight at that time. Pete's fuse seemed very short in those days, perhaps from stress and worry. And with Pete's being oilfield, you never knew if he'd really get off work at 4:30PM or not. Might be dark. And there were the many days that he'd decide to run soap lines with his cousin, Kenny, instead of coming straight home when he did get off. So, my excuses seemed logical. Just not a good time. Brother Bo, followed Leva home before I ever invited him to supper.
Then there was the year I was working at a company in town. It was just a few days before Christmas. Christmas season.....well from November to January, has always been tight for us financially. Not because we spend boucoups on Christmas. Far from it. But because nasty weather often cuts in to Pete's days worked. Bad colds and sickness cause more days missed by he or me. There is insurance renewals due. Property and school taxes. And of course a week or more shutdown of Pete's job, usually, for deer season. No paid vacation. Just that it is deer season and it is East Texas after all.
Seemed like this would be just another Christmas of only gifts for Bubba, no feasts, except when visiting relatives, etc. Then amazingly enough, my employers surprised everyone by giving them a whole weeks pay extra for a Christmas bonus!!!!! Wow! Driving home I was planning the meal we could have together, the things I'd get extra for Bubba, trying to decide what I might pick up for Pete. Finally, a real Christmas.
When I turned on the the farm to market that led to our house, I noticed billows of smoke. Slowed and turned my head to the right.....a trailer house burning to the ground, despite the efforts of the volunteer fire dept. The little family huddled in the front yard. So very sad. Why God, right at Christmas? Then I heard and felt it clear as a bell. Turn around and give them your bonus.
What?! Lord you know how very much this means for us. You know I've already phoned Pete with the good news. How could I ever explain to him what I did with that much money?! I mean, he is a kind and helpful man, but we don't even know these people. But still I did turn around. And then around again, as I argued with myself and God. Finally, I decided I'd obey and let the chips fall where they may. But by the time my reluctant self got back to the sight, the people were gone. Only a few firemen. Too late. Open window of opportunity closed.
These are the two times that stick out, stand out. The ones that I'd do over in heart beat if I could. But I can't. I can only go forward and hope the next time God gives me a chance to be radical, I'll obey.
And if you are going with me through the marriage devotions, I'm turning to the 8th Devotion on Marriage.