Friday, May 30, 2008

Make the Most of Every Opportunity

I picked up a rental car the other day. I had traveled with my family through a car ride and two airports, looking forward to another three-hour car ride which would bring the day to about 12 hours of travel time. I was tired. I just wanted to get in my rental car and get on the road. I was ready for the day to be done.

I had purposefully worn my "Athletes for Christ" shirt that day. I figured it would be a good opportunity to make conversation as I met people in the airport, sat next to them on the plane. I thought that it might be an "in" to reach out to someone and share the gospel, perhaps.

After 9 hours of travel I was tired by the time I got to the rental car. I didn't want to stand in line. I didn't want to be asked "do you want extended coverage with that?" I just wanted to leave.

"What Christian organization do you work for?" the man across the counter happily asked. He was typing into his computer looking up my reservation, smiling.

"Oh, I don't work for this organization. I got the shirt from a friend who made them."

"That's cool. I have a friend who does the shirts for our church" he said.

"Oh yeah? That's cool."


"Do you want basic coverage or extended coverage?"

"Huh? I don't get it? What's the difference?"

The conversation moved into a funk of mundane rental car contract details ... I was way too tired to understand them and had my wife step in for a minute to make sense of it all.


The clerk and I went out to the car and he asked, "what kind of church do you go to?"

"Oh, a non-denominational church..." and we exchanged some more "surface" discussion.

"Well, great to meet you - just pull your car up to that guy there and give him the yellow copy."


I was so glad to be done: we were going to be on the road!

A lingering thought of a missed opportunity nagged at me. I was tired, mind you - I'm sure you know that tired - having traveled all day with three kids, 8, 7, 2 with the end finally in sight. It's a great excuse, really. But geez, I even wore my shirt for the very purpose that the clerk tried to engage me in! What was I doing?? I missed my opportunity - the one I set myself up for. There was more that could have been said, more I could have done. I could have jolted my mind out of my sleepy stupor and woken up to engage this man.

I had lost focus.

Like a speeding car, our days pass by quickly with flashes of people, places and things, and then we stop and suddenly the day is done. In the blink of an eye, people and events go by unnoticed as our cars, our allotted time presses on.

It's one thing to "miss" opportunities intentionally. It's a different thing to miss opportunities because we're not being intentional enough. While I pray I find myself in the latter more often than the former, I also pray that I may be more intentional in my life, with each opportunity. I pray that my eyes will remain open to see the people and events that I will miss if I close them.

Maybe you feel like your life keeps moving on and you never "arrive." Maybe your days feel like they have no purpose - you never think of "opportunities." It's true: life keeps moving on, but your life as a Christian should be the fullest of anyone's. It should stand out in a positive way. It should be filled with purposeful opportunities. If yours doesn't stand out, if it isn't filled with opportunity, think of this famous quotation: "If you don't know where you're going, you'll never know when you've arrived." Maybe you don't live intentionally, with purpose because you don't know you have one - you don't know where you're going? If that's true, pick up your Bible and begin with the book of John.

Read the how God sent his son Jesus to give you hope, and then to give you power to spread that hope to others. Read how Jesus spoke of living life without fear, but with faith. Read more and discover how you and I should have a "peace that passes understanding" - especially in the midst of our problems.

Read and feel the Spirit of God stir within you a desire to make the most of every day, of every opportunity to reach out to another. Read on, and know the grace of God that is present when we've missed the opportunities.

Today's your day - the only one you've got. Don't sleep through it, don't speed through it. Wake up and make the most of it.