Missed oportunities

We were traveling down a road in a town we hadn’t visited before. Marcia drives most of the times these days while I try to navigate. Head down, following the GPS directions, I told her to turn LEFT at a place we should have turned RIGHT.  We missed the turn. Even though I had the sense we should have turned right, we kept going the way the device told me to go.  Usually the GPS works fine, but in this case, the lookup address was incorrect and the result was a delayed arrival. After stopping and asking for directions, we came to the spot where we missed the turn and – looking up – saw the small sign clearly showing the direction we should have turned in the first place.

It’s often like that, isn’t it? We get busy with our head down, focused on our personal agenda or to-do list we miss the clear signs that point us in the right direction. Persisting in the conviction that we must be right, we continue to go our own way rather than stopping to ask for directions from someone who knows better or at least has a better perspective.

Whether in navigating a driving route, running a business, raising a family, or living life in general, we need to know where we are going and how to get there. In addition we need to be diligent to keep focused so we don’t miss the signs and be willing to ask for direction if needed.

I read about a study conducted in Great Britain that concluded that on average, men drive 276 more miles per year than needed simply because they won’t stop to ask for directions, contributing to the missed opportunity of $3,100 lifetime fuel savings. I think you could buy a once-in-a-lifetime vacation for that amount of money. And then, think of the amount of wasted time, frustration, energy. While the study was of men’s driving habits “across the pond,” I suspect it applies to both men and women all over the world in how we miss opportunities clearly presented before us every day.

Recently, a very dear friend and I were observing how easy it is to get so busy we don’t pay adequate attention to even the important people in our lives. I think “keeping busy” is one of the devil’s cleverest schemes to distract our focus on what is really important in life. We fill our lives to the brim, leaving little if any margin to be concerned about others or even the direction our own life is taking. Nose to the grindstone and blinders on our eyes, we rush through our lives, missing the opportunities to share the important things of life with people we love and care about. Sometimes, we even get so busy with “ministry” that we can lose sight of the precious opportunities right before our eyes. Our conversations (if we have them at all) are easily focused on the weather, sports, hobbies, our common complaints.  I wonder, if you were to take the bucket of conversations you’ve had with friends and strangers over the last week and poured out into special vases just those conversations that were truly meaningful and encouraged others, how many bouquets of flowers could you nourish? Looking back, I can see missed opportunities in my own life  that compel me to live my remaining days differently.

There are so many opportunities we shouldn’t want to miss:

  • Sharing someone else’s “hidden” burden
  • Confessing the concerns of your own heavy heart
  • Neglecting to say “I love you,” “I forgive you,” “Please forgive me; I was wrong,” or “Thank you”
  • Encouraging and guiding someone who has lost their way or their passion for living
  • Building positive relationships with young people
  • Being too embarrassed or busy to share your reason for living – your faith

God, save me from being “too busy” that I forget to look up and see your majesty and goodness. Give me eyes that let me see others as you see them, full of compassion and hope and love. Help me to be intentional about loving them now, while time remains.



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