In a just a few days I will be attending my 40th high school reunion. I know you are surprised that I am old enough to attend a 40th reunion. I must have started to school early. Maybe not! Events like this sometimes cause us reflect on the pace of our lives and how quickly the years seem to pass. My guess is that most of the people in the room at the reunion (including me) will look old. It will be interesting to catch up with some former classmates and learn about where their life journeys have taken them.
The Apostle Paul wrote the Ephesian Christians (chapter 5:15-17) and urged them to “be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.” He encouraged them not to “be foolish” and to understand “the Lord’s will” for their lives. We spend so much of our lives worrying about the past or getting ready for the future. Sometimes we miss the moments—the present opportunities that are right in front of us. The challenge for us is to be careful how we live. We are most the most of our opportunities. We are to seize the day!
It does not really seem like it has been 40 years since I was finishing high school and making plans for college. I had not yet become aware of God’s call to ministry. I had not yet met my wife, Bettie Jo. I had not begun to think about having a family, and now I am a grandfather. Sometimes we forget that life is made up of individual days and hours and moments. Each of these moments comes with an opportunity. Some of the opportunities turn out to be more important than others. My first day at college I met Bettie Jo who would become my wife and my best friend.
Every day the journey of life brings us in contact with people. Sometimes they change our lives. Sometimes we change their lives. Every day God is working out his plan in our lives. He is leading us, shaping us, and giving us new opportunities. The older I become the more I realize how important these moments and opportunities are.
Over the past few years I have become involved in a number of faith-based organizations which are involved in speaking and acting on behalf of the most vulnerable in our communities. They are the poor and many others we often overlook in the normal activities of life. I volunteer my time and energy because I have come to realize I have a limited number of opportunities to make a difference in the lives of people. What a tragedy it would be for us to live our lives and miss the moments and opportunities God provides. In Matthew’s Gospel (chapter 25:40) Jesus in his parable of “the sheep and the goats” said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Look around. What opportunities is God giving you to make a difference in someone’s life? We are at our best when we make the most of every opportunity.
This article was written for an August issue of Word&Way.