I recently had an experience that made me feel less than the least.
Sometimes in the morning, I will stop at a convenient store on my way to work for gas and a paper. The lady who works there is by herself at that early hour. She's short, somewhat stout, and a little brassy. I suppose it helps when dealing with all the people who stop there.
She always has beautifully done fingernails, and I sometimes tell her how pretty they are. We don't talk, she's always in a hurry with business, but lately, she seems frazzled all the time, like everything is always going wrong. I try to be patient even though I'm usually in a hurry at 6:00 am.
I've noticed lately that she hasn't been there for a while, so I asked the man who has been working in her place if she is on vacation. He looked at me with shock on his face and said, "Didn't you know? She died about a month ago."
It was my turn to be shocked. She was a healthy looking woman who cared enough about her looks to have her nails done professionally. She didn't look sick at all. When I asked what happened, he said, "Well, the family doesn't want to talk about it," and gave me a sad look.
This woman took her own life. I was hurt right down to my core. I knew I had failed this woman and God, but if only I had known how she felt I would have made an effort to talk to her, to try to be a friend. I don't think this woman was a Christian, but you see, I am.
Talking to strangers doesn't come easily to me. When I do, it is because the Holy Spirit is gently prodding me along. I felt something wasn't right, but never got up enough nerve to try to start a real conversation. She just didn't seem like the type of person I could be a friend too. The Holy Spirit was alerting me, but I didn't catch it.
I went back to my car feeling less than the least, and broke down in tears, begging God to forgive me for not stepping out to this woman in need. Maybe I could have made a difference by letting her know that someone cared, perhaps I could have led her to Christ. As it is, that opportunity is lost forever. This lady has lost her life because she felt like no one cared and she had nowhere to turn.
I'm hurt, and Jesus is hurt. He put me in that spot at that time, and I missed it. I wanted to tell that lady, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," but it's too late. When this lady stood before God and said, "No one cared, and I didn't know what to do," I believe God said, "My servant Carolyn was there, what did she do?" And the answer was, "Who was Carolyn?"
Jesus said to help the hurting, be a friend, and lead the lost to Him. How can we do that if we are not willing to risk rejection to do it? Because I didn't want to be embarrassed or rejected, this lady's life is forfeit. Maybe I could have helped, or perhaps I couldn't, but I should have tried. God will forgive me, but He expects me to start putting into action what I have learned.
Now I have to forgive myself. Matt. 25 says, "I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless, and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me."
When are we going to get out of our comfort zone and begin to deal with God's Word?
Jesus tells a story of a man entrusting money to three servants and leaving for a while. He comes back and asks what they have done with it. The last servant, very cautious, had buried it and had only the money entrusted to him.
The Message Bible in Matt.25 says, "The Master was furious. That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least?"
Sometimes a story from the Bible that never has much meaning personally can be brought vividly to life by personal experience. It took someone losing their life for me to finally get it. Because of my cautious nature and fear, I had done less than the least.