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Lost Opportunities

Author: Sa-ard Utadache

I am grateful that I know Jesus, and I know God is real. I have peace and joy in Him and am living an abundant life. I am joyful to share this good news with people so they can receive the same blessings.

I think every born-again Christian knows that we are saved by grace, not by our own good works. Out of God's love and mercy, He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins so that we can be reconciled to God by trusting in Jesus’s finished work on the cross.

The Bible says, “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son; whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Those who trust in Jesus will have eternal life with Him in heaven, but those who reject Him or ignore Him will spend eternity in a tormented place.

Since I learned the truth about eternity, I believe I have the Christian duty to help my loved ones to find The Lord. I started praying for my mother every day. Two and a half years later, she received Jesus into her life.

The Bible also says that God’s greatest commandments are to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and to love your neighbors as yourself. As Christians, if we love God and our neighbors, we are commanded to share the gospel with people we interact with every day. However, sometimes I was too preoccupied with my own agenda that I missed those opportunities.

One day, almost forty years ago, my neighbor’s daughter, Laurie, and I were washing our cars in our driveways, and we began a friendly conversation.

Laurie told me that she had graduated from high school; she had a job and attended college in the evenings. I thought she would have a promising future because she was a lovely teenager and seemed to be on the right path. I told her I would speak to her again after returning from a two-week trip to visit my mother in Thailand.

When I did get back, I found out Laurie had passed away due to a brain virus. I was shocked because she was so young and I had never thought she would die so suddenly. I always wonder if I had failed by not showing Laurie the way to Christ before her tragic death.

In 2002, a good friend and I went to Phuket, one of the famous vacation places in Thailand. We stayed in a bungalow right on the white sand beach.

We browsed around the many shops near the beach and entered a jewelry store. The items were exquisite, and the jeweler was warm and courteous. He asked me which part of Thailand I came from, and learning that I came from Bangkok, he said he, too, came from Bangkok. I found a ruby ring that I liked but felt the price tag was too high, so I told the jeweler I would think about it, and we left the store.

Early next morning, my friend and I were walking on the beach, enjoying the scenery. We recognized a man walking toward us as the same jeweler we had met in the jewelry store the day before. He was cordial and told us he was once an executive in a renowned company in Bangkok. After he had visited Phuket while on a family vacation, he thought living in Phuket might be more desirable because of the simpler life on an island, without the horrendous traffic, stifling heat, the presence of the crowd, and the high cost of living in Bangkok.

So he moved to Phuket Island with his family. Unfortunately, he soon found out the grass was not as green as he had imagined. His jewelry store was not making enough money, and he was disappointed and worried.

While he was talking, I thought, ‘this is my vacation, and here I am on the beautiful beach listening to the sad tale of a stranger. I just didn’t have the time that I had to leave in the evening.’

Selfishly, I was not thinking about showing God’s love for him; I was only thinking about sightseeing and lunch. I told him that we would come to visit him later that afternoon.

My friend and I had a delicious seafood lunch and did some sightseeing. Before we knew it, it was late afternoon, and we had to pack and leave for the airport. I did not have time to go back to the jewelry store, and I did not have his telephone number. So I left without keeping my promise.

We returned to Bangkok and two days later flew home to Los Angeles. I forgot about the jeweler and everything else because I had to catch up with my work.

About two weeks later, there was a Tsunami in Phuket and southern Thailand. I realized that the jewelry store was right next to the beach and directly in the tsunami's path. I was shocked. Then a great sense of regret and sadness struck me because I feared the jeweler might have been washed away by the terrible storm.

I tried to rationalize that the Lord might have sent another Christian to meet him after me, and maybe they would share the gospel…

Even if that happened, I had to face that I had been selfish--when it was most important, I had failed the jeweler as a Christian. Jesus never turned away those that needed him because He "didn't have time."

I regretted missing the opportunity to help the jeweler find his path to God. I often wondered what happened to him and can only pray he had been saved.

I learned life is too short. Many of our neighbors are going to pass away without knowing Jesus. As a result, they are going to that horrible place called hell where the worms do not die, and the fire shows no mercy for lost souls, tormented for eternity.

If I love my neighbors who have not found Jesus, shouldn’t I try hard to share the gospel with them?

Now become my purpose and conviction—to always be there for people like Laurie and the jeweler, and pray that God would help me to love my neighbors enough that I would seize every opportunity to tell people gently about God and His love for them.

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