Yesterday we drove up to our house and saw our next door neighbor talking with the other neighbor. When we pulled into the driveway, the other neighbor left. Since we just came back from grocery shopping, we both headed to the trunk to take out our groceries. We greeted our next-door neighbor and started to take groceries out of the car. As we stood there with armful of stuff, our neighbor tells us that he had to take his dog to the vet to “put him down.” He said that the dog couldn’t walk anymore; and in fact, he had to wrap him in a blanket to take him to the vet. He went on to describe how he stayed with his dog until “his heart stopped beating.” I tried to imagine what that must have felt like. We both said we were sorry, and he said, “It’s ok. He’s in a better place… he’s in doggie heaven.”
This morning I woke up with the realization that we had a great opportunity to talk to him about heaven, but instead the conversation turned to the yard and weather. What happened? Was I that tired that I couldn’t pick up a cue to talk about heaven? Several things happened in my mind at that time– I thought about possible scenarios of what I could have said, and I thought about Ezekiel 33:8 and how I am now responsible for this man’s fate. All I could do was ask God to forgive me and to give us another chance to talk to our neighbor.
Sometimes I think we rely on feeling too much. We hear about “the nudging of the Holy Spirit,” but I felt no nudge and yet the opportunity was there. So now I am changing the way I encounter situations in my life—I will purposely look for opportunities to talk about God—I will not wait for a feeling to prompt me to open my mouth. Now I truly know what Paul was talking about in 2 Timothy 4:2, “…Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not.”