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I lived through another dentist appointment this morning and had almost made my way out of the parking lot. My appointment was shorter than expected so I was making delightful plans to head to my friend’s house for a quick lunch before my afternoon commitments.

As I reached out the car window so that I could put my ticket in the parking machine to scan the bar code, I felt someone’s presence close to my hand. I looked to my left and an elderly Japanese man’s face had moved into my personal space in a big way -he was carefully watching how I put my ticket into the machine. I was a little taken back but managed to politely ask, “Can I help you?” 

The man was obviously very frustrated. He pointed to the parking machine and asked, “How work?”

Now I was in trouble.  I had a big decision to make.

I knew that helping this man was going to take an easy twenty minutes because getting out of this parking lot successfully wasn’t simply a matter of showing him how to put his ticket into the machine properly.  What this man didn’t understand was that he was supposed to pay in the lobby of the medical building BEFORE he got to his car. Clearly, he couldn’t speak English so helping him meant that I would need to forfeit my luncheon plans, park my car, lead this man back to the building and help him punch his ticket.

Decision time – do I help this man or go on my merry way and do what I want?

Every cell in my body wanted to play ignorant and head out the parking lot but at that very moment, the Lord brought a past incident to mind – a missed opportunity. It happened a few years ago but I can remember the sting of sadness, like it was yesterday.

The battle was raging in my mind and choosing selfishness was so incredibly tempting but as soon as I pictured that old woman struggling to get over the bridge, my heart softened and I knew what I needed to do.

The rest came easy.

I smiled at the man, did some rather creative sign language to indicate that I would help him and parked my car. For the next 27 minutes, I walked the man and his wife back to the building, showed him how to punch his card and then walked them back to their car.

The man had tears in his eyes – he was so appreciative. He put his hands together, bowed at me and said, “You come Japan. I feed you.”  I smiled at him and his wife squeezed my hand.  It was a tender moment.

As I walked back to my car, I thought to myself, “Why do I always seem to get into these strange situations?” and immediately, I knew the answer. On January 28. 2011,(the day of the missed opportunity)  I prayed to God and asked Him to interrupt my days whenever He wanted to so that I could learn more about loving others when it wasn’t convenient for me.

God hears my prayers and is faithful.

Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.  Albert Einstein


  1. Can you think of a time when you clearly missed an opportunity to help others?
  2. Can you think of a time when you clearly chose to be inconvenienced and help others?
  3. How did both situations leave you feeling?
  4. speak truth: Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Psalm 36.5


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