Posted by: ubahleeob | July 21, 2011

Are oppportunities ever really lost?

Wow, long time no write.  It’s funny, I say I love to write but I guess since I do so much writing at work I rarely find time to write for fun. I work in hospitality and most of the writing I do starts something like, “Dear Guest, I am so sorry you didn’t enjoy your stay yada, yada, yada……”  — definitely not fun.  But I’m not here to write about the incredible impatience and true loss of civility among the traveling public.  No today, there is something else on my mind.  Are opportunities ever really lost?

Now the quick answer is, “well of course!”  That makes sense.  This seems to be especially true in our lives if we claim to be followers of Jesus.  The typical line of reasoning states:” God has a plan for your life, there are doors along the way.  If you fail to open one of those doors, they are gone forever. You just have to move on.”  I have heard and thought this  most of my life.  I have often wondered (with some amount of guilt and fear) how my life would’ve been different if I had taken advantage of some of the opportunities that I am sure I must have missed.

But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if this is really the way God sees things.  First off, I would never, and I mean never, attempt to speak for God.  But one of my problems with the idea of limited opportunities is what I’ll call “the logic of the straight line”.  Yes, our lives do run in a line.  We are born (point A) and then we die (point B).  But God, he really doesn’t do lines.  He moves in and out, up and down, this way and that  along that line. He creates lines, he is never held captive by them.  It all starts with him and has it’s completion in him.

A couple of examples: Jonah,  everybody knows the story.  God gives Jonah an opportunity.  Jonah says no.  Jonah takes cruise.  Boat nearly sinks. Guys on boat throw Jonah overboard to save their own necks. God provides unusual transportation for Jonah  and he arrives pretty much  where God intended.  In this case, Jonah not only seemed to missed the opportunity, he turned it down.   But the story would lead  the reader to think that this  was something that God had expected all along.  Look at how the story turned out.

We probably all have examples like this.  In my own life I’ve seen time and time again where things that seemed like opportunities soured only to lead to something unexpected.

We wanted to live near the beach. For almost  20 years we talked about, prayed about, dreamed about and wondered if it would ever happen.  My wife is a teacher and three years ago she lost her job.  That began a long process that eventually led to us relocating and living by the beach (actually less than five minutes from blue-green beauty of the Gulf of Mexico).  As I look back on all that happened,  I think the only missed opportunity was were we just had to  wait for God to do what only God can do.  Instead we cried, we wondered, we questioned, we cried some more,  but all we had to do was wait.

I think it’s that “follow me” thing that really throws most of us for a loop.  We Americans love to chart our own course. We are the captains of our own fate. We pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.  We keep the wolf away from the door.  We are the definition of all things self-reliant.   And maybe the straight line of opportunity would work, in a perfect world.  But this world is anything but perfect.  It is upside down and broken, sort of like Humpty Dumpty waiting to …. well you know.

So what does all this mean.  For me, it is trying to learn that I can only do so much.  I can’t see every opportunity.  I probably can’t see most of them.  If I miss something, isn’t God big enough to get me back where I need to be, even if it takes a ride in a Grouper?  The Bible seems to say that we should probably be  careful before we drop the curtain on something and head to the house..  The Bible says, “So don’t get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in.” (I Cor 4:5, The Message Version).  Too many times I have declared the game over, thought the patient was lost, the deal was dead and  I have been proven wrong. I suppose in this case,   it’s good to be wrong!

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