Make the most of every opportunity. (Colossians 4: 5)
Be very careful then that you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity. (Ephesians 5: 15-16)
Social scientists have studied the thoughts that people report about their reflections on their lives. The research found a fascinating distinction between individuals’ short-term versus long-term regrets related to action and inaction. In the short run, folks wished they had not taken certain actions, made certain mistakes, or “missed the mark” in something they chose to do. They regretted what they did more often than what they didn’t do by 53% as compared to 47%. However, the scientists observed a significant shift in the data as the years of life ticked on. Over the long haul, 84% of people regretted what they did not do versus a mere 16% remaining focused on foolish actions they had taken. Interesting.
This day, this week you will be bombarded with a cacophony of voices vying for your attention, each trying to pull you in their direction like a mad street vendor. Some “voices” will insist that their urgency and importance demand the investment of your time and money. The problem is, each choice you make has two sides to it. There’s only so much of you to go around. You can’t do it all. You are chosing to do something, but in the choosing, you are also electing not to do something else. The hidden price tag, often ignored, is the opportunity cost.
So one aspect of that regrets problem is the unfortunate human tendency to plan to do that later on, as soon as – the rush dies down, when I get these few things out of the way, or when I’m more certain it’s what I’m supposed to do. Tick, tick, tick.
Another contributor to missed opportunities is the failure to distinguish “urgent” from “important.” Many activities that cry out to be tackled right now have no long-term significance. On the other hand, investments of more long-term importance may wait on the sidelines, growing more impatient by the week and month and year because they are passed over again and again. Tick, tick, tick! The ingredients are being mixed to cook up long-term regrets of the 84%.
A third culprit is the failure to see and embrace a great opportunity when God presents it to you. It looks good, and something stirs within you. Could this be a divine nudge? But then the negative voices from your past, the raspy one whispering from your own emotional throat, and the voice of the enemy of your soul all chime in together.
“You failed before. What makes you think you could do it this time?”
“Whoa! This is way over your head!”
“This is too risky.”
“What will people think?”
If you listen to the voices, you can talk yourself right out of the amazing opportunity God has placed right in front of you. Saying no, either directly or through procrastination, can result in a lifetime of, “What if…?”
Has God been speaking to you about something He wants to give to His world through you? Sure, it’s more than you can do. But God’s definitely not in over His Head! In addition, anyone who ever did anything worthwhile has also experienced failure. Setbacks are only the catalysts for comebacks when God’s in control! And the opinions of others? How much can that matter in comparison to your fulfilling God’s given dreams and significant assignments? Jesus didn’t please everyone either.
Has this e-votional spoken to you about a particular “something important” that you’ve been pushing back or neglecting? This day, this week, what are you going to do about it?
O God, it seems now the years tick by in fast motion. At the end of my life, I want to know that I have said YES to Your vision which most often has in it assignments over my head. I have learned that’s when I must get my pride out of the way and rely on YOU. I know I’ve missed many divine opportunities in the past, but I don’t want to miss a one from here on out. Lord, You know that I try to cram too many items into my to-do list. Help me to slash it down so that I focus and invest in what matters most to You! Lord, break my heart for what breaks Yours!