Missed Opportunities
by Tammy Howell

Prior to reading this prayer from my journal dated July 9, 1996, you may wish to read and meditate on John 4:1-42.

Lord, why is it so hard for me, at times, to stop my "busy-ness" and recognize You at work in those around me? Sometimes I get so caught up in doing good things-- busy meeting the obvious need, but not looking deeper to the real need. As I sit in Your presence, my heart and all its intentions are laid bare. You have given me various opportunities to share Your love to some very precious souls. In most of these opportunities, You were able to use me; my heart was sensitive to Your prompting, and You blessed me tremendously. But even one precious opportunity missed is one too many.

One missed opportunity in particular keeps haunting me, for I see so vividly now how You were wanting to use me to touch someone who needed You desperately. Only a few days ago during the gospel concert at the "Canal Days" festival, my daughters and I sat in the only cool spot there was, which was under a few shade trees. From where we were, we could see my husband's group singing, and it wasn't too loud for my daughter's ears. Perfect . . . that is until we got some company. I almost hate to admit this, Lord, but I felt very uncomfortable. You see, Lord, she looked so very spiritually unclean, and she had two very small boys--a 12-month-old and a 20-month-old. The baby had a knot on his forehead the size of a baseball, and they both looked dirty and had bruises all over their legs.

Everything within me wanted to get my girls and leave. But I just couldn't. It would appear spiritually pious to get up and leave then. And I knew I am no better than any other person You have created. We all have been created in Your image, God.

So I chose to stay, and as I noticed the huge knot on her son's head, I spoke to her asking her if I could get an ice pack for her son. She declined my offer but she almost instantly began sharing how she was tired of not feeling loved and how she was thinking seriously about leaving her husband. She was from Toledo, Ohio, and when she met one of the carnival attendants, she decided to meet him here in Waverly. Lord, I was speechless! What a beautiful opportunity, but all I could see at that time was this little boy and the possible concussion he might have. I wanted so much to do something for him, but the mother kept insisting that he was okay.

As I concentrated only on the physical need, I missed the deeper need. As I look back on this moment, I realize she could not have made her need for Jesus any more clear than if she would have shouted, "I need the love of God! Help me please!"

Lord, I am reminded of the time when You met a Samaritan woman by the well in the heat of the day. You were not as concerned about her need of water, but of her deeper need of a Savior. And as You gave her the "living water" of salvation, she went back to the town and brought many others to You, Jesus.

I wonder just what impact the girl I met at the Canal Days festival may have made on her community if I would have been more sensitive to You, Lord! Lord, forgive me for missing this beautiful opportunity. Help me to realize the importance of meeting the physical needs of people but to always allow my focus to ultimately be on their spiritual needs. Lord, help me to be a woman of courage, joining You in Your work and purposes. As I spend time in Your presence, mold me, shape me, and make me just like You!!

Copyright © 1997 Tammy Howell.
May be reprinted for evangelistic purposes if printed in its entirety and distributed free of charge.