Reading my prayer journal. A few weeks ago, I prayed this:
“Father, please help me to know You MORE…Please reveal to me ANYTHING about You that I need to know…Of all the things I’ve asked You for – all the silly prayers and broken prayers, I’m asking You for ONE THING – Please, Lord, more than anything else, reveal Yourself to me.”
The next morning, I woke up…brokenhearted. Seriously. It’s the only word that fits. I was literally grieving over how many people HATE God. or even the idea of Him.
Immeasurable grace. Unconditional love the likes of which I will never fully comprehend.
and so often – much too often – the response is arrogant and caustic rejection. vehement acrimonious derision. revulsion. hate.
and then there’s indifference.
God, through the ultimate expression of love, sacrificed Himself on the cross so that ANYone can experience abundant life in Him.
and so many people respond with “meh.” So many people don’t respond at all.
I’m brokenhearted. Not just for people I know and love, but for people I’ve never met.
this is new. and not from me. On my own, I’m incapable of this kind of intuitive compassion.
I was compelled to start praying that people would desire the truth so much that they would pray “God, if you’re real, please SHOW ME.” That the Holy Spirit would answer that prayer.
A few days later, I found out my family physician, who’s been our doctor for more than 10 years, took his own life.
Heartbroken, I prayed that sometime in his life, he prayed that prayer.
Because I couldn’t stop thinking about THAT moment. The moment just before he took the action that ended his life. The overwhelming hopelessness. The pain.
And I grieve.
I have no idea if he knew Christ. He asked me so many personal questions about my life over the years and I never, not once, talked about my faith in Christ with him. I talked about church. About the church rummage sale I’ve worked for 10+ years. He knew I led worship because more than a few times, he gave me a steroid shot so I could sing when I lost my voice.
But I never once, told him about the most important relationship in my life. I never once asked him what he thought about God.
And there’s no rationalizing. No letting myself off the hook. The uncomfortable, undeniable fact is, that if he actually is in hell, I had something to do with it. Not because of something I did, but because of something I didn’t do. Something so simple. All I had to do was ask a simple question, in the middle of one of those many “church” conversations: “Do you go to church?” or “Do you believe in God?” If he didn’t want to talk about it, he would have blown me off or changed the subject, because he was gracious like that.
And now I’ll never get another opportunity.
Is it possible he knew Christ? yes. God can do anything. He speaks to people in multiple ways, through multiple circumstances and multiple people. I’m certainly not the only Christian my doctor knew. I’m betting I’m not the only Christian he knew who is feeling this regret.
and I’ve felt this particular regret before. But I had desensitized.
The first time I let hundreds of opportunities pass was because I was intimidated and afraid. But this time, 20+ years later, when I’m supposedly more confident and competent and have grown in my faith, the reason I didn’t ask is not because I was holding back, chicken or paralyzed by political correctness or appropriate. The reason I didn’t ask is because it didn’t occur to me.
How selfish is that?
Some, in an attempt to make me feel better, might say, “It’s not your fault, you can’t blame yourself.”
Feeling better is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Grief can be motivating. It can open eyes to the brevity and fragility of life. It can prompt change. The desire to feel better can lead to motivational equivalent to hunkering down in a big comfy couch.
So I made a decision.
I. decision. me. action. (Ya just know it’s gonna turn out bad when I say it like that, don’tcha?)
I decided to see people. To reach out to hurting people. Because people in pain don’t fly flags. And, after all, I have x-ray discernment.
A few days later, I was washing my hands in the restroom at Olive Garden and I noticed the woman next to me pressing her hands to her eyes, clearly, trying to stop crying. She turned and walked away from the mirror.
All I had to do is say, “I don’t mean to intrude, but are you alright?” For all I know she could have said, “I’m fine.” end of story.
We could have had a conversation. I might have been able to pray with her or for her.
Instead, I dried my hands and left.
You could have heard a cock crow.
Maybe the conversation with my doctor or the woman at Olive Garden would have led to nothing. Maybe it would have left a spiritual stone in their shoe, leading them to thoughts about God that weren’t there before. Maybe it would have led to comfort, peace, strength or a knowledge and decision for Christ. The outcome – their response – is not my responsibility.
My responsibility is to pray. To ask God to make me aware of His prompting in every encounter and conversation I have. My responsibility is to pray for God to bless me with courage to be immediately obedient when I recognize those promptings. My responsibility is to pray for God to equip me for those conversations by not only giving me the words to say, but by also letting me know when to shut up and listen. Sometimes people need to talk. Sometimes, they want to talk. Maybe my doctor would have graciously changed the subject. Maybe the woman at Olive Garden would have told me she was fine.
Either way, I could have stepped through the door He held open. I could have recognized and responded to God’s prompting, not to be able to carve a notch into the spine of my biggest Bible, but because God has blessed me by answering my prayer: “Father, please help me to know You MORE.”
He grieves for those who don’t know Him.
And He’s breaking my heart for what breaks His.
2 thoughts on “brokenhearted. and another lost opportunity.”
Convicted! Thank you for your honest, open and most assuredly thought provoking words.
Thank you for sharing!