Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Lost Opportunity

The woman fidgeted in front of the library entrance.  I smiled at her just before I entered.  Perhaps reassured by my smile, she said, "Hey, do you happen to have a cigarette?"  

"No, I'm sorry, I sure don't."  I opened the door and disappeared into the book realm.  An hour later when I exited, I scanned the people loitering at the entrance but didn't recognize the cigarette lady. 

Twenty four hours later, and I'm still pondering this interchange.  How could I have helped her?  Obviously she had no money...even for a cigarette.  Yet, she didn't beg for a buck.  I'd like to think I would have coughed up a little cash for her, but she didn't ask for that.  Thus, it was easy to pass her by since I didn't have exactly what she longed for--a few puffs of her addiction. 

I recall another brief conversation that happened a few thousand years ago between Peter and John and a crippled man begging for a few coins.  They also didn't have what he needed but offered him something much better (see Acts 3:1-10).  I wish for a do-over.  I want to return to the library, find the desperate woman and give her what she's really hungry for.  I'd say, "I don't have any cigarettes, but I can buy you something to eat and drink across the street." 

Perhaps after her stomach is full, I can share with her about the One who knows her, loves her and can satisfy her cravings.  I wonder if people would be amazed, as in Peter's day, at this needy woman's transformation. 

"God, would you give me a second chance?  The next time I see someone in need, help me to have the courage to act.  I desire to be your hands and feet to those who are lost, those who don't even know they need you.  Heighten my senses to the lonely and desperate, and when you nudge me to act, may I obey."

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