Meeting Andrea Shaffer; My Failure to Look Back and Looking Back On My Failure
“Making the most of your time, because the days are evil…” – Ephesians 5:16
I was blessed in college to attend a school only one hour away from home. My college town of Jackson, Tennessee was only eighty miles from my hometown of Memphis. Because of the short distance, trips home were fairly common. On one of these weekend trips during my junior year, I had a life-changing encounter that impacted my view of evangelism. I arrived home and quickly ran into the house to get ready to meet up with some friends. As I left, I hurriedly backed my car out of the driveway only to back into another car. Initially, I was not really sure where the car had come from; for there had not been any cars going down my street. When I backed out, I looked to my left and to my right. It was a rather routine action I had done many times before. Yet on this particular day the outcome was different. The other driver was a woman named Andrea Shaffer. She had been backing out of my neighbor’s driveway directly across the street from my driveway. She was simply turning around. I had looked every direction except behind me. I failed to look in the rearview mirror. The good news was very little damage had been done to the two vehicles. While we were exchanging information, I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to share the gospel with Mrs. Shaffer. But because of the drizzling rain and my “pressing” appointment with my friends, I disregarded what God was leading me to do.
But the story did not end that day in the drizzling rain. A week later, I was at work reading the newspaper in the break room. The front page headline read, “Death Brings Change of Heart; Homeowners Reconsider Sidewalks.” The story told of a woman who had been jogging in her neighborhood the day before when she was struck and killed by a speeding car. But what struck me was the victim’s picture and name. It was Andrea Shaffer. To this day I still have a copy of The Commercial Appeal dated October 4, 1996.
I felt an overwhelming sense of conviction. Did Andrea know the Lord? To this day I do not know the answer to that pressing question. The missed evangelistic opportunity weighed heavy upon my heart for years. Yet God used it in my life as a teaching moment. I would like to pass along to you three life lessons in particular. First, we must seize. What are we to seize? We are to seize every moment. Do not waste your time. Paul stressed the importance of harnessing every moment when he told the church at Ephesus to make the most of their time (Ephesians 5:16). Our life on earth is brief. With this in mind, let us be about our Father’s business. Secondly, we must see. What are we to see? We are to see every encounter with people as divine appointments. God strategically places people in our path, and each meeting is an opportunity to sow the seeds of the gospel. Third, we must share. What are we to share? We are to verbally share the gospel. It is not enough to simply radiate the gospel through kind actions. Our actions must be paired with our verbal witness. The two must go together.
I pray Andrea’s story magnifies our call to witness. For me, God used my encounter with Andrea to stir my heart in understanding the urgency of the gospel.
Andrea Shaffer of Cordova, Tennessee died Wednesday October 2nd at the age of 33. She was born on Saturday, December 29, 1962. She was survived by her parents, her husband, a two year old daughter, a 3 month old son, and a 10 year old step-son.
– Pastor Eric