Friday, January 07, 2011

Missed Opportunities

I’m starting to write this on New Year’s Night.  I had an opportunity to drive to Willow Creek to see a worship concert featuring Kirk Franklin.  Didn’t go.  OK. Maybe it was the Rose Bowl that stopped me but I really wanted to see Kirk Franklin.
There’s all kind of things through the course of my life that I’ve missed.  Sometimes it’s the result of having to make a choice between two or three good options.  Lots of times I chose to honor a commitment rather than choosing what might be more fun. Sometimes, though, a missed opportunity is due to laziness and inattentiveness.  Procrastination plays a role of course and that leads to some disappointments.  More often than not I regret not getting off my backside to experience something good.
I’m ashamed to admit that laziness, inattentiveness, and procrastination frame too much of the life I’ve lived.  At the end of every summer I bemoan the fact that I missed too many street festivals, too many concerts, and too many opportunities to host people at our home due to not being proactive enough.  The pattern deserves some prayerful attention.  Who wants to live with regrets?
Oh, I’m not a complete mope.  There’s plenty that I do and experience and I get a lot done. But there’s a whole lot more that I wish I would have said ‘yes’ to.  I wonder, at times, what plagues me. Why do I choose to do nothing when doing something else would breathe life into my tired bones?
Part of my issue is that I’m hardwired in the direction of introspection.  I’m an introvert.    Private time renews me.  Most of the time.  All too often renewing time moves towards wasting time.  That's a concern.  
Others I know don’t waste time.  They have different issues.  They’re always busy (a different kind of waste) They fill their calendars with all kinds of stuff that neither interests nor renews them.  Whatever is necessary to ‘keep busy’ is what fuels their being.  This should be an issue for them.  What is all that busyness trying to hide?
A few people I know seem to live in a nice sweet spot.  Busy with what is necessary and restful for the sake of renewal.  But it’s only a few. That’s why so many of us have this nagging discomfort with the pace of our life.
Very few of us have it completely figured out.  It comes down to life rhythms.  What do we need to be doing to be true to who God created us to be, to meet the obligations that we have, and do what’s necessary to replenish lives that do get depleted?

We all miss opportunities.  Sometimes it’s because we’re too busy.  We rush through life and miss messages and signals from God.  Sometimes we’re not busy enough.  We’re so busy taking care of ourselves that we ignore opportunities for real renewal and opportunities for serving. 
In the Christian church I find both kinds of people.  As a pastor I want to light a fuse under a whole lot of folks that need a more noble purpose for their lives.  And there are a whole lot of folks whose busyness distracts them from what really matters.  How best do you speak to those kind of lives?
I give the appearance of being busy even in the midst of my most slothful times.  That’s probably a more practiced deceit than I care to admit.  That’s posing.  It’s hypocritical. And even thought I just confessed it the question remains as to what I’m going to do about it.  And the truth is that I don’t know.  
How many of you have something in your life that you know isn’t good for you and you just don’t feel inclined to do much about it.  My guess is that this blog is being read by compulsive shoppers, closet drinkers, bingers, chronic status seekers, and bigoted boneheads.  Each knows that what they are doing is causing pain either to themselves or to others.  And yet they keep doing it.
It’s crazy what we do.  I can resonate with Paul when he writes in Romans “It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.”
In so many ways the battle inside me is very real.  Just as it is in you.  Much of what I battle is just old fashioned sin.  It’s crippling in its own way.  Blogging about it is a start.  It puts it out there in the light of day.  But there’s some interior work that needs to be done away from the light of public scrutiny.  It’s in the interior of my soul that posturing doesn’t work.  The opportunity to deal with those things that limit me in reaching my God given potential are the things worth dealing with. 

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