“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” – 1 Peter 3:15
“Do you smoke?”
The voice came from above my head. I sat in the driver’s seat of my car with the door ajar, buckling up my Rollerblades for a morning skate on the trail.
“No,” I replied to the twenty-something girl standing beside me. Her question seemed rather odd, especially since I was obviously getting ready to exercise. She walked away without saying another word.
That was weird, I thought. She must be looking for someone who has a lighter. I finished putting on my gear, locked my car, and started toward the trail. The young woman was coming back in my direction. She was sweating profusely and had a distressed look on her face. I sensed the Lord saying, “Talk to her.”
“Are you OK?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said, although I wasn’t convinced.
“Are you sure?” I prodded.
“I need a cigarette,” she told me as she walked away. That was the extent of our conversation. However, I continued to think about her as I skated, wishing I’d said more. About 30 minutes later, I saw her on the trail. I smiled and said, “Hi.” She didn’t respond.
When I got back to my car, instead of leaving to go home, I put on my shoes and headed down the trail in her direction. Immediately, I started praying and quoting Scripture, asking God to give me the words to say. I was excited to see what the Lord was going to do.
The girl was nowhere to be found. It was as if she disappeared. I was upset because I knew I should have stopped when I saw her the second time. “I’m sorry, Lord!” I cried.
Today’s experience was a sobering reminder of how important it is to act quickly when God prompts our hearts to speak to someone. Moments of opportunity are fleeting. When they’re gone, they’re gone forever.
I pray the young woman I saw today will find fulfillment in a personal relationship with the Lord. I pray, too, for another opportunity to reach out to someone else like her this week. This time, with God’s help, I won’t miss it.