Lunch hour of late has been a time for me to get away from the computer for a bit and run errands. I always manage to grab a little something to eat as well. Hey, that’s why we call it the “lunch hour”. However, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of getting ready for a new school year, I have been doing more running than eating which can sometimes be a good thing. It is amazing to me how when we least expect it an opportunity for ministry appears right in front of us.
I was doing my usual running and the Dollar General was my last stop before I had to get back to the office. As usual, It was crowded. I grabbed what I needed as quickly as I could and headed for the check out line pausing ever so briefly by the candy. (I am such a “sucker” for M & M’s. he he!) Because of my brief pause, a lady came flying in from the right and scooted in front of me in line. Though I was in a hurry, I remembered to smile. Seemingly, out of nowhere, she began sharing with me about her life and her children. We chatted for about a minute when she began to pour out all of the things she had been going through in the last year. This included illness, family problems, her husband’s arrest, and her 18 month old going to heaven. She wasn’t out for sympathy or for something from me. She just needed someone to listen. How quickly a 5 minute stop turned into an opportunity for ministry. God put us together at the right place and at the right time. She was a lady who needed some ministering, and God allowed me to be a help.
So many times I find myself not ready for such an opportunity. What would have happened if I had gotten in the the line grumbling and complaining about the crowd or how I was going to be late? (I have done this before a lot more than I would care to admit.) I would have missed such a great blessing.
The Lord brought this verse to my mind, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Colossians 4:6) Before this verse meant to me that when there is a conflict with someone I need to speak with grace and understanding or when I am speaking with a non-christian I will not discredit or turn someone from Christ. Yet the verse very simply says, “Let your speech be always with grace.” I need to “always” practice gracious speech. When I think over a normal day in my life and start analysing my speech, I am convicted that my speech is not “always with grace”. I am so grateful that my speech did not in any way dissuade or discourage this lady.
I am thankful that God showed me again the importance of being ready at all times for ministry. You never know that the next person you encounter may be the one God has placed in your path at just the right moment for you to minister and help.
When our speech is gracious, we might find ourselves with more and more opportunities to reach out to those around us in our homes, in our churches, in our communities, and even in our “Dollar General”.