Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life. (Prov. 4:23, HCSB)
For years, if you had asked me if I was thoughtful of others, I would have very quickly responded, “Yes!” I generally thought of myself as generous and kind. I’m sure there were moments that I was considerate and sympathetic, but an event in my life showed me that I needed some work!
It happened about 12 years ago. At this time in my life, I was mom to 5 children, struggling to make ends meet on a pastor’s salary from a small church. I faithfully combed through the racks of the second-hand stores to find clothes for my growing brood. One particular day, I was waiting in line at a local Salvation Army store and just ahead of me was a young girl who was about 7 or 8 months pregnant. She was tall, thin, and obviously poor. Her clothes were faded and torn in a few places. She had a bundle of baby clothes in her arms. She turned to me and said, “Aren’t these adorable? I’m having a girl and I’m so excited.” Her smile seemed to engulf her entire face.
I nodded and offered a forced smile in return. I was tired; I was in a hurry; I was going through a hard time personally. I just didn’t feel like engaging a stranger in conversation.
After the cashier tallied up the baby clothes, the girl realized she didn’t have enough money. She cheerfully said, “Oh, I’ll just pick out the best ones.” She turned to me and apologized for holding up the line.
I politely said, “That’s ok.” Inside, however, I was thinking, “Really? I don’t have time for this.” I was impatient.
We live in a rural community, about 40 minutes from the big city. I was halfway home, when I came under such strong conviction. I don’t know if I can accurately describe how I felt. I heard the Spirit whisper, “Why didn’t you pay for the rest of those baby clothes? She only needed $8 more dollars. You missed a perfect opportunity to be generous.” Part of Matthew 25:45 came to mind: “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.”
I also thought of the verse in Hebrews 13:2 that speaks of being hospitable to strangers because they may be angels. As the full weight of my failure started to sink in, I began to weep and had to pull the car over. I begged for forgiveness and vowed to try to never miss an opportunity to show generosity again.
On that day, I neglected to apply the truths that I had been taught and have taught. In a moment of tiredness, I dropped my guard and gave in to self-centeredness. I was so wrapped up in my concerns that I didn’t even see the opportunity for obedience to the truth I profess right in front of me. It was just a brief moment, but a moment I can never take back. It was a hard lesson I’ve never forgot. I want to be a faithful servant, always – even when it isn’t convenient or easy.
Let me stand high above my petty problems
And grieve for men hell bound eternally
For if once I could see this world the way You see
I just know I'd serve You more faithfully. (written by Mike Otto)
My name is Lynn Pauley. I'm just a normal woman, with normal struggles. Any success I've found comes from following the Scriptures. I'll update this blog as time and inspiration permit.