Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Missed Opportunities

I know the 'ol "WWJD" (What would Jesus do?) slogan is so...90's! But I admit I ask myself that a lot, and I ask my kids to use that question to help them determine what is right and wrong as well.

When the WWJD moments come up and it involves me giving money, or walking out on faith, or sacrificing something material so someone else can benefit, I'm usually pretty good. But sometimes I fail so miserably that the missed opportunities to bless others (and to therefore be blessed) haunt me!

When I sat down on the plane to depart from Ghana in February, I was hot, exhausted, and homesick. You know the feeling. You just want to somehow keep it together just long enough to fall into your loved once arms! I had an aisle seat and an empty seat between me and another guy. Not bad. I can deal with that! Then a mom, dad, and their 2 year old daughter walk up looking completely distraught. Baby girl had been put in the middle seat on my row, while mom and dad were put in two more middle seats, in two other rows. Of course there was no way they felt okay with their 2 year old flying between two strangers, so they started asking if people would trade seats. Problem is, what person with an aisle seat is going to WANT to trade for a middle seat?

Enter guilt. Enter the Holy Spirit whispering into my ear. "Anita...you can be a blessing to them...it's only the first leg...it won't kill you." I know Lord but I'm so TIRED and I have to go to the bathroom a lot and...enter pitiful excuse here. I wrestled with myself until someone else unselfishly traded seats. I missed an opportunity to show someone else the Love that Jesus would have shown them. Jesus would have sacrificed not only his seat, but his life.

I miss opportunities every day to bless the less fortunate. I'm not talking about volunteering somewhere. I'm talking about taking the time to just sit and talk and get to know one of the street people I see everyday in my area. Would Jesus drive by them day after day, or just throw bit of money their way? I don't think so. I think he would stop whatever "important" meeting he was going to just so he could bless someone with the gift of humanity--one human talking, and touching, and listening to another. I've missed opportunities to show my children what real compassion is. And I'm sure I've missed opportunities to be blessed BY those unnamed people that I drive by every day. They have a story, and a life, and wisdom that I'm sure could be a blessing to me, just as I might be a blessing to them. But I drive by.

There was one time that doing the right thing--what Jesus would do--blessed the woman I was called to help, but also blessed me incredibly. It was my first time flying to Ghana. I had had two HORRIBLE legs and was on the final leg from Amsterdam to Accra. Aisle seat in a 3 seat row, with two empty seats. Then a gentleman filled the other end seat. Then I see this very obese older woman barely carrying her weight with the aid of cains, coming our direction. She was to occupy the middle seat. But her leg was injured. They moved the gentleman on the end and had the woman prop her leg up on his seat. This left her leaning back the entire 7 hours on me (since she had no backrest, sitting sideways and all)

But the woman was lovely. She had a difficult life and a leg that doctor's in Germany couldn't correct. So she was going back "home" to Ghana to see if traditional medicine would work.

Each time the woman had to go to the bathroom I had to help her walk there (they took her cains during the flight), and help her get settled back into her seat. I had to hold her food on my tray, and even cut it so that she could reach over and eat it with a fork. When immigration forms came around, I filled hers out, because it because obvious that she was only slightly literate.

At the end of the flight I had another crisis of conscience. Is my duty to this woman over now? Can I get off? Those immigration lines are so long, and I didn't know where I was going, and I just wanted to get out of there! But here is this woman....forgotten about by the flight staff. Trapped in her seat. Unable to walk out until they bring her her cains. AND she has to go to the bathroom. Okay Lord. I submit.

We waiting until everybody else had gone and then I helped her to the bathroom. From there she got her cains and I carried both of our hand luggage while supporting her down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs porters were waiting for her with a wheelchair. We were the last people off the plane. I said goodbye to this dear lady, but she said, "No! My Anita. You must come with me now." He made it very clear to the porters that I was with her!

We walked into the immigration room where hundreds of people were waiting in line to be processed. But not us. No. I was "with" my friend and so we were ushered to the front of the line where both of our paperwork was processed immediately. I made sure my new friend had found her family and then we said goodbye.

I will never forget the experience of helping her because it was a time that it would have been so easy to stay in my own self--not doing anything extra for somebody that needed extra. The lesson I learned is that sometimes, when WE feel that the Lord is calling us to help someone else, He is really calling for us to experience His blessing upon us! That woman was blessed to have someone to help her during that flight, but the Lord totally blessed me by taking the single most stressful part of traveling (getting through immigration) away from me on my first trip to Ghana.

May we all ask ourselves "What Would Jesus Do" more often--and then live out the answer.



Jennifer 9:12 AM  

Anita great thoughts for all of us!!!

Let me says the devil doesn't want them to be read!! So much so My computer shut off as I was reading it! Normally I would have be to impatient to come back to read it!!

GREAT!! I'm so glad I came back!!!


Tanya 9:14 PM  

Thanks for reminding us not to miss any opportunity to serve!

Peace and Grace,