Thankful for a swift kick to the gut!

A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Rejoice from Tanzania shared a message from Ecclesiastes. He shared that there are three things that when spent, can’t be retrieved:

  1. Time
  2. A Word Spoken
  3. Important Opportunities

I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.”  Ecclesiastes 9: 11-12 (NIV).

For the last few years on the weekend before Thanksgiving, I have had the opportunity to help smoke Boston Butts for a local high school wrestling program. While it’s not fun at my age to practically stay up all night, it is fun spending time with some friends catching up and just being guys. Even though I know longer have a son in that program, I was asked if I wanted to help. I gladly accepted and looked forward to catching up with the guys.

Had I not accepted the chance to do this, I would have missed a swift kick in the gut. Now maybe you think that’s a bad thing and I suppose sometimes it is but this kick was needed and I am thankful for it.

As I arrived, we immediately began to greet and start catching up with each other. As we were, another parent who just happened to be there began telling us of what had been going on in her family for the last six months. It wasn’t good news. We learned that her husband was in very bad health and the prognosis is grim at best. Since the end of the previous year’s wrestling season it had been a constant struggle. A father unable to work and provide for his family, a working mother with three children and two grandchildren at home, and a son who should have been enjoying the summer before his senior year, working to help support the family. Scattered in between were doctors’ visits that never brought good news. Thankfully, their small church has been helping as they can.

All of this was news to me. This family is not a “Facebook” family, so the information wasn’t posted for all the world to see. My impression of this family has always been that they were a sweet, hardworking family willing to give you the shirts off their backs. Always willing to help, never complained, folks that are real easy to like. Even through her battle to defeat breast cancer.

She shared this with another parent and myself. To say it was emotional would be an understatement. Kelli and I were in the right place at the right time. Kelli and I put our arms around her and Kelli prayed. Thinking about that prayer still gives me chills. And it gave me some answers to questions I had been praying about.

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A swift kick in the gut and a reminder about what Pastor Rejoice shared. Immediately the “Emergency Baptist Response” was formed to plan a Thanksgiving meal for them. Nothing combats life’s struggles like giblet gravy and cornbread dressing. As I write this God continues to provide to meet their needs financially.

This isn’t an isolated case. There is much need out there. Most may not be as drastic as this, but need none the less. Are we aware? Do we want to be aware? I keep asking myself those questions.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in our lives and have tunnel vision when it comes to those around us. How much time do we waste? Waste on things that really have no meaning. How often do I speak words that really have no meaning or intention behind them? How often have we said, “Call me if you need anything?” God forbid we seek people out and check on them.

It would be easy to say, “They should have let us or someone know.” But how many of us are hypocrites? How often do we keep things to ourselves because we can’t swallow that enormous plate of pride in front of us? Should followers of Christ wait for someone to call them or should we seek opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus?

How often do we miss opportunities? Pastor Rejoice shared six reasons we miss opportunities:

  1. We just fail to recognize them. Inwardly focused not outwardly focused.
  2. Sometimes their hidden and we must be prayerful so God will show them to us.
  3. Sometimes they come in painful circumstances.
  4. They come to us as failures.
  5. Because we aren’t prepared for them.
  6. Because we associate with the wrong people.

God works differently than we do. The fastest don’t always win and the strong sometimes lose the battles. As you take the time to be thankful for the blessings God has allowed you, don’t lose focus on those around you. Those blessings turned outward can have a great impact in the name of Christ. Of the many things I am thankful for this year, a swift kick in the gut to remind me that it’s not about me is one of them.

Are you prepared for the next opportunity God will offer you? Don’t miss it, you will never get it back.

Run to the Cross!
Hugh

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