Friday, May 17, 2013

Three Little Words—I Am Sorry

Why am I so slow to learn? Sometimes the Lord has to hit me over the head with a 2 by 4! Such was the case this morning.

I was taking Mary to school, and had just dropped her off. As I was exiting the school, I suddenly remembered that I had part of a leftover cheese soufflĂ© (more like 3 bites!) and half of a danish pastry from Panera Bread. It was a heavenly thought, because I rarely go out for breakfast so it was going to make for a fabulous nearly-forgotten treat alongside my coffee and Bible.

That's when I messed up. And as my friend says to her children, "when ya mess up, ya 'fess up!"

No! I didn't have a car accident!

As I approached the exit going about 4 mph, I saw a woman walking her dogs out of the corner of my eye (I've never seen her before, normally I just pull up to the busy road and scoot out to leave the school). We both were approaching one another, with me needing to turn right and her needing to walk in front of my car or behind my car to get to the other side of the sidewalk.

It's right at this time that my thoughts were delighting over the Panera Bread gold I had at home, so I wasn't thinking really hard about the pending driver decision (I know it's scary that people like me are on the road. It was not a good thing that I was not concentrating on driving—and I am so thankful no one was hurt! By God's grace, I will think about my driving more!).

I rudely scooted in front of her making the nano-second decision that I wanted to get there first so I could be first (never a good attitude for a Christian, it was a great opportunity to deny myself and give up my right to be first and just plain ole hit the brake instead of accelerating to beat her to the street—but then as you have probably guessed by now, I didn't do that or I would not be writing this to you!)

I pulled up to the stop sign, and by now she had walked straight across the street with her dogs (which I couldn't see since I had scooted up and pulled forward to the main street to prepare to turn right while she had walked behind my car).

"Mmmmm, I'm gonna put the coffee on and," I thought as I would be home in just minutes.

Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by someones voice.

It was the woman with the dogs. Her body was facing away from me, as if to continue her walk, but her head was turned as much around as she could to say something. She was speaking to me through my closed window!

"You just had to pull up, didn't you? So you could get in line and wait!"

Then she faced forward again and kept walking her dogs down the sidewalk away from my car and in the direction I would be going in just a second.

Only I couldn't go, because I had not even seen that there was a line of traffic that wasn't moving—all in a backed up line to the next traffic light. Usually I just pull out and am home in minutes.

Not today.

As she was speaking to me my eyes were telling me that she was exactly right. I was driving with no thought of anyone else, just my own selfish desire to get home. That was not only not safe—it was rude.

I know what my Bible says. What happened to ....

"love your neighbor as yourself." 

"Love is not rude, it is not self-seeking..."

"... do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."

... and how many times the Bible says to "be alert," or be "watchful."


She was walking faster than any of us dreamed about going. We weren't moving.

A nice woman let me in. So now I was in the line, and by this time, the dog lady was way ahead.

I felt awful. I realized that I had been so utterly rude and thoughtless. It was that sick feeling like someone just ruined your beautiful day and got it started on the wrong foot—only it was me who was the cause!

It didn't help matters that I was subconsciously a little ticked off at her for calling me on my rudeness (stopping now to confess, I missed that the first time. Another plus of blogging! She actually did me a favor by showing me a spiritual blind spot—so now I'm thanking the Lord for her although at the time I wasn't exactly thinking that way).

The traffic began to move forward, and I could see I was going to have to drive right beside her. I felt God wanted me to say something and not just hope she wouldn't notice my car going by. I instead made some excuse silently about how I could cause an accident, so I just put up a sheepish wave that was so weak that I have no doubt it was hard to decipher if it even was a wave.

By this time, I had taken time to notice her since I could study her when the traffic was sitting still—to really notice her (you know—not "here I am," but "there you are kind of notice", and I saw that the dogs were dachshunds—one had long hair and one did not. Before then, I couldn't have even told you what they were.

After I waved, I said something inwardly to the Lord like, "Well, you surely don't expect me to roll my window down and speak to her, I'll make all the people mad behind me now who have places to go!"

"Yes, that's exactly what I want you to do," was the message that was piercing my heart.

At this point I was still in the traffic line, but had moved several car lengths past her and was waiting for the next cycle of the light.

Completed convicted by my sin, I yielded! Praise God! I yielded to the Holy Spirit's way in my life and I was truly sorry for putting myself ahead of her.

I can yield!
I can choose His ways over my selfish ways!

I told the Lord I was sorry, and that I would not miss the next opportunity I might have to tell her that I was sorry. Those three words. I rolled the passenger window down because I knew I would only have a second—but this time I was going to use that second for good.

I got the chance. The light changed and I advanced and we both got to the intersection at the exact same time. Guess what? There was yield sign right there. Yielding is stopping and lettting Christ have His way in our lives! He wants us to be about His Kingdom coming on earth and His will being done on earth, but it begins in our own hearts!

"I'm so sorry, I wasn't thinking!" I hollered out my right window as my car briefly paused at the yield sign.

"That's okay. Thank you," she hollered back as I drove away from the intersection with a line of cars behind me.

I breathed easier as I drove toward home. I had done it. I had righted the wrong. I could begin this beautiful morning anew. I didn't have to carry around the guilt of being rude for one second longer!

Christ paid the penalty for my sin. I can confess mine, and thank him for dying on the cross and paying the penalty for my sin when he paid the debt for all the sin of humanity.

I thought about her again as I approached my home. She, too, could start fresh because one rude woman had told her that she was sorry for being thoughtless. Was she a Christian? I had no idea.

Such a tiny little thing. Telling someone we're sorry. Does it matter?

Yes, it matters!

I tweeted yesterday, "All I have to do today is the will of God."

So what is part of His will for me today? It is doing what God calls me to do.

To go get groceries.
To accompany my husband.
To go pick up my children.
To help my children.
To replace buttons on my husband's jacket.
To make supper.
To say, "I love you."
To do the next thing all day long that I know He wants me to do. To say, "I am sorry" when I realize I have sinned against someone else (saying it genuinely, not SORRY!)

I don't know what you're facing today, but I know the One who knows. He stands ready to forgive and cleanse us each day, each hour of each day, each moment of each day.

"Teach me to treat all that comes to me with peace of soul with firm conviction that your will governs all." 
~from Orthodox Morning Prayer

"...‘love your neighbor as yourself.’"
~Matthew 19:19

"To love and be kind ... to everyone who is thrown across our path by the changes and chances of life; he or she, whosoever it be, whom we have any means of helping..." ~A. P. Stanley

Oh, dear reader, be alert today and watchful that you may consider other's needs above your own. Is there someone you need to ask for forgiveness? Take that first step—God will cleanse us and help us!

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."  ~1 John 1:9

Walk by Faith,

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