2019 is flying by. Before we know it will be time for fall, football and pumpkin spice everything again. I am often surprised by the arrival of end of the year and the fact that it seems to go by faster year by year. In the past, those who were more mature than myself said that was going to be the case. But for me now at 33, it is a reality.
Many times, I look back on a year and think about the good events and milestones that happened. But I also look back and consider the mistakes or missed opportunities. This is in all areas of life–family, work and unfortunately following Jesus as well. I’m sure we can all look back and focus on these missed opportunities and wish to have another shot at it. In retrospect, it seems so easy and clear to see how one false step in a certain direction can end up leading us down the completely wrong path.
A few months back, I finished an extended period teaching through the book of Ecclesiastes where Solomon has some great perspective on the issue of regret and missed opportunities. Solomon covers a wide variety of topics in this book, but I wanted to share a just a few of his principles. I believe they can help us in our day to day living to gain greater clarity and to see into the future or at the least to see clearer in the moment.
Patience–While Solomon’s life may not have been one marked by this trait, he can give great perspective to us from the other side of the coin. Patience for some is a trait that is highly sought after but hard to grasp. These people like to jump the gun and do something and not wait, but act. Oftentimes, they will think it through as the situation develops. I’m that kind of person. I often think, “Why be patient?” when I can just get it done. Solomon shows that this mentality can often lead to trouble. (Side note–Patience and laziness are not associated, so we can’t call our lazy behavior patience. The lazy trait is desperate to be killed in our lives; there is no room for it. We will talk more about this on the last point.)
Wisdom–Wisdom is something that we all could use more of, but isn’t something that we often seek out.
“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
To seek out wisdom in our lives means several things.
It means that we don’t know everything… Right. This isn’t news to us. We know that we don’t have everything figured out, but it’s completely different when we seek others into these areas of our lives. While this is easy to say, it is hard to do.
It also means we have to be patient enough to seek out wisdom from others. If it’s finances, your marriage or family, seek out good advisers in these areas and then listen to what they have to say. Then through the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, discern the direction God is leading.
Action–Now is the time to act, and I don’t mean just stroll toward your goal. I mean run, jump, leap, pursue it with all that you have. Now isn’t the time to casually work toward that goal; now is the time to give all your effort towards it. If it’s your job, then pursue it with an excitement and vigor that possibly you have never had before. If it’s your spouse, then let out that 17-year-old inner teenager that would do anything to be with that special someone. And if it’s your faith, let it move you! Pursue Jesus in a way that you have never before. Let Him consume you! Let His mission mark your life in a way that it is inescapable. Don’t hold back and don’t worry about what others may think. Pursue Him like a lion pursues his next meal–because his life depends on it.
If we could let this year be marked by these three words, then it is my belief that we will look back at our life and see less regret and opportunities missed. Instead we will develop a rhythm of life that honors God in all areas because of the steps we take that inform the choices we make.
Let’s make today a day marked by good choices and God’s blessing!
Chris Smith, Youth Pastor