Friday, January 6, 2012

Fighting my Jonah

Something happened on Tuesday and it is still haunting me.  After going through our RACK experience, I was determined that I would always look for ways to help random strangers when given the chance.  Tuesday I blew it.  And it is still bothering me.  Greatly. 
Tuesday I had an appointment with my doctor (new year, new check-ups!).  There seems to be this new law that when you arrive for an appointment you need to show your current insurance card and your driver's license.  I have run into this over the past year in a couple different situations so I'm guessing someone passed a law.  Anyway, I signed in at my doctor's office, fiddled through the magazine rack to find something (that was not from 16 years ago and would hold my interest and yet not be offensive) and then settled into my chair.  I buried my head into some random home magazine and I tried not to be annoyed with the rather loud cell phone conversation a woman was having across the typically quiet waiting room.  Then a rather weary looking older woman came into the office and began the process of signing in.  She signed some paperwork and was trying to tell the lady at the desk something about being horribly sick, but she kept being interrupted with more instructions and paperwork.  She stepped to the side, went through the paperwork and then went back up to the window.  At this point the office worker requested her ID and her insurance card.  The woman answered that she had been so sick and so out of it, she had forgotten them at home.  I could hear the desperation in her voice.  She sounded so very weary.  Exhausted really.  The office worker politely, but matter-of-factly stated their policy and suggested that the woman have someone bring her information to the office for her.  The woman replied that her husband could not drive and there was no one else.  The office worker then informed her that her appointment would have to be rescheduled.  I heard in the woman's voice tears as she responded that she had waited weeks to get this appointment.  By now the rest of the workers in the office had their attention on the woman.  She just kept saying how very sick she was.  My heart started to break for this woman.  
Now, I understand the policy, I do, but I think all of us have had those days when we just don't feel like we can handle any more.  It is rare that I get horribly sick (beyond the typical chest cold and stomach flu stuff), but I know the utter exhaustion that comes from being that sick, but still having to continue on.  I also understand the frustration of having to wait for an appointment for far too long and feeling like nothing should stand in your way of having that appointment.  I understood her disappointment.
The woman's shoulders sunk as she rescheduled her appointment.  She quickly gathered her belongings and walked out of the office and down the hall.  Thanks to the glass front of this particular office, I could still see her down the hall.  She dropped her things into a chair and although still standing, hunched over with her hands covering her face.  She was crying.  Really crying.  At that moment, something in me said, "Go to her.  Reach out to her."  I started arguing with myself.  What if I left the office and they called my name?  I could miss my appointment.  What could I really do for her anyway?  I couldn't get her licence and insurance card for her.  What good could I be?  "You could simply go and pray with her.  Reach out to her.  Let her know that someone cares.  That she is not alone."  I continued to argue with myself.  No really, I was arguing with the Holy Spirit, and I knew it.  
I watched as the woman tried to compose herself, wipe her face with her hands and gather her things.  She walked towards the elevator.  She pushed the button and as she waited, her composure briefly slipped and a few sobs came out.  I felt glued to my chair.  She was leaving, there was nothing I could do now.  "You could take the stairs and meet her at the elevator downstairs."  True, the stairs were right next to the office and I had taken them up.  It would be very quick and easy to meet her.  But that would be weird.  She would think that I was creepy, coming after her like that, right?  I did nothing.  I watched as she stepped on the elevator and as the elevator doors closed.  She was gone.
I knew, I knew, that I had missed an opportunity.  I knew that my pride, my comfort, my potential embarrassment, kept me from doing something that I should have done.  I knew that the Holy Spirit was leading me to reach out to that woman for whatever reason and I clearly said no.  I was wrong and she was gone.  I lost that opportunity and I will never get a chance to reach out to that woman again.  I said a prayer for her.  I could do that.  I prayed that God would somehow encourage her.  Oh.  Yeah.  He tried to encourage her, through me.
That was Tuesday.  I kept thinking of her throughout the day and into the next day.  Then Wednesday night at our mid-week prayer meeting our pastor gave a little devotional out of Acts 8.  He spoke about how when God leads us to do something, we can either say no, hesitate and argue (another way of saying no) or we can say yes.  In verse 26 an angel directs Philip to "go south".  The first words of first 27?  "So he did".  Philip didn't question, he went.  No doubts, no hesitation, no "Why?".  He just went.  He went and he ended up ministering to one person.  One person that God directed Philip to meet.  
On Tuesday, I was far from being Philip.  I was much more of a Jonah.  Now, I don't know what happened to that woman.  Maybe God led someone else (someone more Philip-like) to this woman.  Maybe someone was even there in the parking lot for all I know.  But I missed an opportunity that God gave me.  God is capable of using anyone (and anything for that matter) to do His work.  It is a privilege that God would consider using me to encourage another.  I thought I learned that.  Wasn't that the whole RACK thing?  I had this stuff down, right?  No.  When it was not something I had planned, that I had purposed to do, I failed.
That was Tuesday.  This is Friday and I am still haunted by my missed opportunity.  I am still rehashing what I should have done.  Not that I am beating myself up over it, but I am convicted.  Convicted that not only did I clearly say "No", but that I didn't seem to value the privilege it is to be used by God in even "minor" ways.  If I can't say an emphatic "Yes!" every time the Lord asks something small of me, how do I expect to say yes in the bigger things?
I cannot go back and fix Tuesday.  That moment, that opportunity, that privilege, is gone.  However, I can determine to fight my Jonah tendencies and try to embrace more of the Philip that God desires for me.  He will never give me more than I can handle.  He will present the opportunities and He will give me everything I need to follow His will.  I just have to say yes.  No hesitation.  No arguing.  Just yes.


  1. I recognize myself in you so! For me, its embarrassment that I am not moving on to action in such situations. Perhaps we must ourselves overcome - praying.

  2. Sometimes I tend to argue within myself too when those promptings from the Holy Ghost come. I need to remember not to seek to counsel got, but to heed his counsel and follow him. "Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: - Psalms 107:11" You are a good and tender person or you wouldn't even have felt those promptings.

  3. Thank you for your honesty, how many times do we have to simply have the courage to drop the social pretense and lovingly encourage a stranger? It never seems to get easier, the enemy strives to use every single roadblock he can to keep us from reaching out. I would've struggled with every question that came to your mind at that instant also. Would I have jumped up and reached out to her? My honest answer? I do not know and that discourages me. It makes me resolve to be more courageous. I pray that God will give me the courage to throw away all social pretense when I am given such an opportunity as this.

    Maybe in a way your are still being able to reach out to this precious woman with this post.... it has caused me to pray for this stranger and maybe it will lead others to do so too.