“But now it’s too late,” sighed Diane sadly. My wife was sitting upright in her seat in our early Wednesday morning prayer time at our home, having just mentioned that she had had an experience that moved her very deeply. She looked meaningfully around the room, her eyes filled with deep emotion as she gazed into the faces of our little group.
She told us about how she had been out on her mother’s front porch after a visit and was preparing to leave. Attempting to herd our little people along to the van, she turned and spotted a small white and black terrier trotting through the yard. The piping sound of our younger children’s voices apparently attracting it, the dog lifted its head and spied our little crowd. With an enthusiastic flailing of its tail, it sprang onto the porch and yipped once or twice. It then began to dart up to the children, playfully springing away whenever anyone’s hand came near it.
“Isn’t that the neighbor’s dog?” Diane wondered aloud. There were several nods and verbal variations of “I think so”. “Well, we’d better catch it before it gets out onto Jackson Pike,” she responded. She cautiously tried to approach it but the small dog was enjoying the game and liked its freedom too much for it to allow itself to be caught. Just as Diane’s hand nearly had a hold of it, it twisted its small body and dodged, pulling away. It turned and playfully looked at her, obviously hoping that she would try to reach it again. She did so. But each time she nearly had it, the terrier bounded two or three leaps away.
“Then it apparently got tired of playing,” my wife explained. “With its nose to the ground, it went on its way. We had to leave, so while I got the kids in the van, mom went in to call the neighbors about their dog running loose.” As Diane drove away, her last image of the dog before moving out of range was of it exploring new sights, sounds, and smells, its tongue hanging out of its mouth while it skipped along.
“Later, when I talked to mom on the phone, she told me that just minutes after we’d left, the dog had run out onto the main road and gotten hit. My mother said that the person who hit it took it to the vet right away but it didn’t make it.”
Diane’s mother who was also at the prayer meeting spoke up, “When I called the neighbor, they said that their dog was accounted for. The one we saw and tried to catch wasn’t theirs. It was another neighbor’s pet.”
“Yes,” Diane reflected. “It was someone else’s pet. A part of their family. I’ve thought about that and found myself thinking, ‘If only I had been able to catch it. It might be alive now. But now it’s too late.’”
“And then, God’s Spirit reminded me about how that happens all the time with people, too.” She looked around at the people in the room. “People are spiritually perishing without Jesus. I want to at least do my best to reach out with every opportunity that I’m given to share God’s love with people who don’t know Him as their Savior and Lord. I know that sometimes people like their freedom so much that they’re like that little dog, playing with God’s offer of salvation, yet they try to keep Him at a safe distance so they can keep doing what they want and keep going where they want to go. Sometimes people finally DO listen and it makes all the difference in the world. And sometimes people miss their chance at being ‘caught up’ into God’s love and die without Him. And then it’s too late.”
Later, after the prayer time was over and people had left, Diane continued to talk with me about what God had said to her. “I hope and pray that we as Christians will take every chance we’re given to share with people about salvation. I’ve been reminded of a thought that Anne Ortlund shared in her devotional book, My Sacrifice, His Fire. She said that opportunity is a lot like a horse that runs up to you offering to bear you on its back. If you choose not to, for whatever reason, and it gallops off, you never know if it will ever come back and give you another chance to ride it.”
While it’s true of opportunity in general, consider how eternally tragic it is to lose the opportunity to receive God’s forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ. And without Jesus as our great Mediator with God the Father, there is no hope at all for a soul that is parted from its body by death.
So heed well the lesson that a certain little black and white dog can teach us. Don’t shrink from the reaching hand of God as He seeks to deliver your soul from the path of final judgment. Allow the Lord to cleanse the guilty stains of sin from you with the crystal clear waters of grace. Let His Son’s sacrifice be applied to your heart by faith and receive His forgiveness.
But not only that, allow the Lord’s Spirit to use you to present the opportunity for salvation to those around you as well. It’s true that their freedom may seem sweet to them as their eyes scan the horizon for new experiences, yet they are simply hurrying to their own destruction. Share as God gives you open doors and pray for opportunities to let people know about God’s gift.
“For the wages sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NIV).