Ever tried to capture the perfect expression on a child’s face, only to have your camera or phone click one second too late? Or try to catch the peak moment of an athletic event with the same result? How about those times when you’ve had a delightful dinner, vacation, weekend with family or friends and realized afterward that you didn’t take a single picture together?
My pastor recently talked about being a neighbor, focusing on the parable of the Good Samaritan*. We’re all familiar with the story of the man who was robbed and beaten and left by the side of the road. Each of the three men Jesus mentioned differed in their motives and means, yet all had the same opportunity. Only one took time out of his life, and money out of his pocketbook, to help.
I tend to be more like the priest or the Levite. Sometimes I am motivated to help someone but lack the means. More often, I have the means and opportunity but I’m not motivated, even when I know I “should” be.
At a fast food restaurant today, I had a brief conversation with an employee as she swept the floor. It occurred to me that I should give her the small amount of cash I had in my pocket. It wasn’t much, but she probably made minimum wage and would not get tips. But by the time I made up my mind to do so, she was nowhere in sight. I checked all areas of the restaurant and looked behind the counter, but I couldn’t find her. I had the means and the motivation, but I had missed the opportunity. Probably because I took too long in making up my mind to respond to the nudging of the Holy Spirit.
I’m not proud that the idea of being a Good Samaritan came to me. Instead, I am saddened that I let the opportunity escape, and that I don’t look for opportunities more often. That was Jesus’ point. It’s too easy to get wrapped up in our daily journey and pass the injured man on the side of the road without realizing the opportunity until it’s too late.
Thank goodness whether I succeed or fail doesn’t determine my eternal destination, since good works are not the means to an end but the end result of what Jesus has already done for me. But I need His help to keep from missing the opportunities to show His love along the way.
*By the way, you can watch that message called “Who Is My Neighbor?” here.