The Things We Should Have Done
To this day, it still bothers me. I’ve talked about it, prayed about it, and apologized to God about it. But this lesson I learned still makes me feel a certain, uneasy way.
We had been traveling most of the day and had stopped at a rest area. When we got back to our car, we were approached by a young man. He said, “Excuse me, sir, can you help me. My gas light is on, I don’t have any money. I’m coming home from college. I have my mom on the phone, she said she’ll be happy to pay you back if you can just help me”.
Without hesitation, I said, “Man, I’m sorry. I don’t carry cash on me”. We got into our car and left him at that rest area. His car door was open, and he went back to talking on his phone and continued his haphazard pace around the front of his car.
Four miles up the highway was an exit with a gas station and that’s when I talked with Pixie. I felt terrible. It wasn’t long ago we were in situations where all we needed was a break. I let my selfishness make the decision not to help at that rest area. I was tired, Pixie was tired, and my first thought was, “I really don’t have time for this right now”.
So, I told Pixie, “You know, it would have been no skin off my nose to tell that kid, hey, you know, I don’t have cash but if you can follow me to the next exit, let’s get you taken care of”. But that’s not what happened. An opportunity to demonstrate empathy was offered and I chose selfishness. I do not doubt that the young man got help, but God presented that opportunity to me at that moment.
There’re several lessons I took away from this experience. Many of our blessings are from doing the next right thing. Doing the next right thing means doing them without expectations of acknowledgment, self, or rewards. My concern was with the way I acted.
That selfishness with “me, me, me” is what will erode my life and the blessings I've used to build that foundation. By doing nothing and standing still, to letting selfishness creep into my life, these blessings will stop and will wash away.
Let’s read this again:
“By doing nothing and not being His hands and feet, the blessings in my life will erode”.
My next lesson, or concern, was my spiritual ears, which seemed to be hard of hearing lately. God is mostly subtle when he talks. There’re always opportunities to be His hands and feet, but have I let in so much noise that I can’t hear? That’s letting selfishness in and take over. The level by which my life is complicated is dependent upon me and me only. When my life has become so full of noise and distractions that I’m not hearing “the next right thing” opportunities, I need to simplify.
These lessons are taken from this experience certainly didn’t make me feel better. I don’t dwell on them, but often when I revisit that day, those feelings of guilt and regret are fresh. I feel that way for a reason because I knew what I should have done and didn’t follow through.
This reminds me I still have work to do. Everyday. Because it's hard work to keep my life simple so I can hear God whispering His opportunities.