Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Cost of a Lost Opportunity

Hebrews 13:16 - "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."

Galatians 6:10 - "Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers."

1 Corinthians 10:24 - "No one should see their own good, but the good of others."


I was talking with a good friend this week about regret. He related a personal story that went something like this: when his son was old enough to hunt, they went on a father-son hunting trip. They waited through the day and eventually a buck wandered into the line of sight. In the words of my friend, "I got greedy and took the shot."

Later that night, he realized that he had missed an opportunity to bless his son by allowing him to take the shot. He wept. He wept because he recognized that in the grand scheme of life, another deer killed by him would never be remembered, but his son's first kill would make a memory that would be treasured for a lifetime. And, even though his son shot his first deer the next day, my friend still wishes he could CTRL-Z the event and UNDO the moment to bless his son with that particular shot.

How many times in our lives have we done something similar...we had he opportunity to bless someone and we botched it. We neglected the expectations or feelings of others in favor of our own. We demanded our own way (or cajoled or was even friendly about it) rather than considering someone else's idea. It could be an encouragement left unspoken, a lunch where you didn't pick up the tab, a win you could have given credit for, a momentous occasion where you made the world revolve around you. In most cases we aren't talking about sin...just the lack of "good." It may be something that we had every right to have our own way. But is that really how we are called to live?

The verses above talk about a different kind of life. A life that does good. A life that sacrifices to bless others. The world is filled with people who don't look any farther than end of their nose. What should distinguish us, from people of the world, is the vision to see past our own junk. And love puts others first. Love gives opportunities.

In most cases the other person will never think about, or know that the opportunity was missed. This is very different from hurting someone. This isn't what these verses are talking about. The cost of the lost opportunity is only paid by our foolish selves. We live with the regret that there is no CTRL-Z in life. I'm sure it's not regret that will put us in bondage (hopefully), but who wants any regret at all?

Every now and then I sense the spirit telling me to bless someone by sending them a card. (Yes, actual snail mail...imagine anyone's surprise when they get something other than a bill or junk mail!) This past week I obeyed the call and sent a card to a dear older couple at church. The love that the husband exhibits for his wife with her failing health inspires me to be a better husband. So I told them that. It was a simple - though completely true sentiment - that cost me very little to convey. I could have just thought nice thoughts about them and prayed for her health and his patience. They would never have known that I missed the mark. But his watery eyes spoke more than his words as he tracked me down to thank me for the blessing they felt because of my simple gesture. No regret there...

Now it's your turn. Send a card. Buy a lunch. Give a gift card. Let someone else have an opportunity to shine. DO GOOD!

The best the end of Hebrews 13:16...God is pleased (i.e., he's blessed)...which puts it in the category of worship. Go figure.

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