Where do you draw the line between being "safe" and "wise" about a situation and following God's gentle nudging in your heart to reach out to someone in need? How do you discern what the "right" choice is in a situation?
I've been praying for God to give me wisdom as I look at others around me who are in need. I have been asking Him to help me discern when I am being too "safe" and when it is important for me to be cautious.
Last week I was returning from visiting wonderful friends at their church in Hot Springs Village. It was a very hot afternoon, and as I drove in the comfort of my air conditioned car, I was thankful that I had this luxury. As I pulled into a small gas station to buy some gas and use the restroom, I noticed a man walking toward the store. He didn't go inside, but just had a seat on a small bench outside the door. As I walked toward the store, he stood up to open the door for me. I gave the cautious, "Thank you..." avoiding much eye contact and hurrying in.
Sometimes, as a single young woman, I allow myself to feel too threatened in all situations. I know it is important to be aware of my surroundings, but with God's protection, there is no need to be in constant fear.
While I was in the store, I began thinking, "It is a really hot afternoon, and that man could use some water. Maybe I should buy a bottle and give it to him as I leave the store." That thought continued to go through my heart and my mind. But as I left the store, I tried to ignore it, using "caution" as an excuse. As I drove away, the man was still sitting outside the door in the heat.
Was he asking for money or help? No. Was he causing any problems? No. In fact, I think he was resting, because he had been walking for awhile in the heat. The area was busy with customers, and it was daylight outside. He had gotten up to open the door for me, and had not said anything, nor had he given me any need to feel threatened. But did I buy the water and share a refreshing drink with him? No. Even after driving a couple of miles, my heart continued to feel pulled, and I considered turning around. But again, my human nature kicked in, and I thought I might seem "silly" if I went back.
I believe God was prompting me to share with the man that day. To give a simple gift of cool water on a hot afternoon. In a safe situation, where I did not need to feel afraid.
So - though I missed the opportunity to share the love of Christ that afternoon, I can only pray, asking God for forgiveness in "ignoring" his prompting, and seeking wisdom for future situations. It is important to be wise about where I am at and my surroundings, as I said earlier, but even more than that, it is important for my heart to be in tune with the gentle "nudges" God gives me. It is critical that I not miss opportunities to be His light in a hurting, dry, and thirsty world.
I am so thankful for the Living Water that He has provided for me so that I do not have to thirst. May I be that example to others.
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" - Matthew 25:37-40-