Thursday, June 28, 2007

Missing Opporturnities

I recently took a trip which required some air travel. Flying is not something that I have done very much and it still has a very new feel every time I do it. This time as I looked around the different planes that I was on a thought struck me: each of us are going for different reasons. We may have been heading for the same airport, the same city, but our reasons for going there were not the same, though they might be similar. Some were business people traveling for business (is it just me or is that the majority of flyers?), others were on vacation, still others were traveling to see family, some may have been meeting a love, and a few were just catching a connecting flight to another city.

Whatever the reason that had us on that plane together for that brief period of time our lives were connected. Though we remained strangers for those few hours in the air our fates were tied together. Perhaps that is why I was moved to pray that the plane trips would be safe, so that anyone who did not know Jesus might be given an opportunity to put their faith and trust in Him.

Isn’t amazing how many people we come into contact with each day? Even in my small town I constantly see people. Whether it is walking by the lake, shopping at the grocery store, or having a white chocolate mocha my life intersects with other lives all the time. In those brief moments of time how can I impact the life of another person? How can we show the love of Jesus to other people in the check out line, on the sidewalk, or in an airplane? I ask this because I think too often I allow opportunities slip through my fingers because I am not seeking out opportunities to bring love into other people’s lives. May God forgive me for all the wasted chances to share His love with other people.

Here are a few things that I thought about as I have tried to answer the question. First and most basic I believe is just to be nice and respectful. Sitting in the shuttle bus with a few other people to return our cars that were in long term parking the lady across from me told me how she had meet a bunch of friendly people that day, which surprised her, because, according to her, so many people are jerks. There is no way we can share the love of God and brighten up the day for someone else if we are jerks. Simply being polite and nice to others opens the door to bigger opportunities. It might even cause people to ask: Why are you so nice?

Second is to offer to help people. We constantly come across people who are struggling with packages, flat tires, and lost items. Why not take some time and offer assistance? It is so easy to ignore the struggles of others simply because they are the struggles of others. They are not our struggles and so we move on and forget them, but what a wonderful opportunity to show love by stopping and helping. There is something in me that thinks that is exactly the type of thing that Jesus would do.

Third refuse to give into the temptation to live in your own world. MP3 Players, Ipods, cell phones, laptop computers, and all sort of other electronic devices can cut us off from the world that is all around us. They erect invisible barriers that say: I am busy don’t bother me. Perhaps if we just made ourselves approachable we would find ourselves in a conversation that we would never have had if we had earphones in our ears. For me it is so easy to absorb myself in writing or reading a book and in the process ignore the people around me. I am afraid that by doing this I may have robbed myself of great opportunities God has given me to impact the life of another person. May Followers of Jesus be more intentional in connecting with others rather than shutting themselves off in their own little world.

We are presented with opportunities all the time to touch the lives of other people. Yes it may be a brief moment, but we have no idea what that moment might mean in eternity. I hope that we will become more intentional and aware of the opportunities God has given us to make an impact for Him. Perhaps it will be at Wal-Mart, the side of the road, or hundreds of feet in the air, where it is doesn’t matter, what matters is what we do with the opportunity.

{15}Therefore be very careful how you live - not as unwise but as wise, {16}taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil. {17} For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord's will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17, NET)


Joy in the Journey said...

One of the last flights I was on, I was tired from a convention. The thrill for me is to sit next to the window and watch God's amazing creation pass beneath me.

I get to my seat, and there's a gentleman sitting in it. I said, "Excuse me, but I believe you are sitting in my seat." He apologized and immediately got up to sit in his seat on the aisle.

We bantered back and forth for awhile, and then I said something like, "I was going to give you the come to Jesus talk."

He laughed. Turned out he was already a Christian and we strengthened each other for the entire two-hour flight home.

One of the comments he said as we banked over Lake Michigan was "Isn't God's creation amazing?"

My thoughts exactly.

It's not only the non-believers we can impact, it's the fellow brothers and sisters. We can share our journey with them and encourage one another.

Paul said...

You are so right Joy. When we seek to make the most out of the opportunities provided to us we will also encourage and impact fellow believers. Just as you have done for me so often.

Nate said...

Thanks for the emails and the posts, Paul. Make sure you check up on my Xanga site today.

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