March 2014

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

Shantanu Dutta

If we let our fears of the future hinder us, there are so many things that we would miss.

Some months ago, in the course of my work, a colleague and I met with a senior functionary of the Aam Aadmi Party, which recently formed the government in Delhi. The meeting was cordial and pleasant and relatively easier to organise than with the leadership of the established parties. The gentleman concerned gave us a patient hearing on a hot summer afternoon and promised to raise our concerns through the media and through the press conferences that they regularly held. Once we went back from the meeting and returned to the office, we made perfunctory efforts to follow up on the meeting, but eventually decided that our time and energy was better spent elsewhere. After all, what could a fledgling party offer us in advancing our concerns? In hindsight, I regret that and regard that as a missed opportunity. Today, when heaps of people are lining up to meet the very same person, it will be that much more difficult and lining up in the queue will look opportunistic.

Opportunities will come our way in various guises in life and we will miss many of them to our own sorrow and remorse; yes, we know that there will be many things that prevent us from seizing these opportunities and making them count for something. Some of us have particular kinds of personalities that prevent us from carrying out our plans. Some of us procrastinate—we put things off until we even forget we were so determined to do them. Some of us get depressed and discouraged and finally throw up our hands in despair and say, “What’s the use?”

If we keep putting things off because of the prospect of some future trouble, we will never do anything. We must realise that, no matter what good work we begin to do, there is always the possibility of future problems and obstacles. No matter what area of life we look at, there is always the possibility of crises ahead. Many people won’t take a job or a promotion because of the possibility of future trouble.

Taking Risks
Many people live their whole lives not taking advantage of opportunities because of the possibility of trouble ahead. They are afraid to take a job or start a business, because the economic prognosticators have told them of trouble down the road. In our own current financial climate, it is possible to imagine all kinds of terrible scenarios in the next few years. Some people allow the fear of that

possible

trouble to prevent them from accomplishing anything.

But, there is the possibility of future trials and tribulations no matter what we do, even when the prospects look brightest. Even if it looked as though the prospects seemed to offer no hindrances or obstacles, there is always the possibility for disaster, accidents, and unforeseen problems.

Following Christ Is Risky
The very act of following Jesus Christ is also one of those areas where many people give up before they get started, simply because of the possibility of future trials. When people first begin to consider whether or not to follow Christ, He doesn’t tell them that there is a possibility of future trouble if they follow Him. He guarantees them that there will be trouble in the future. He doesn’t conceal this hard truth from would-be disciples. Jesus said in Luke 12:51-53, “You suppose that I have come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For, from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” In John 15:19 He said, “If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” If we want all people to love us and speak well of us, let us not become disciples of Christ. Our future will be filled with people hating us because of our stand for Christ and His truth.

No matter what we are planning to do in the future, I assure you, that if we think long and hard enough about it, we will think of something that could go wrong. There will always be an ominous wind beginning to blow. There will be threatening clouds lurking on the horizon. But there are many reasons why we must not allow the prospect of trouble to stop us from boldly taking advantage of future opportunities.

Embrace Possibilities
First, often the trouble we fear never comes. Our Lord told us not to be anxious about tomorrow. One day’s trouble is sufficient for one day, without imagining all of the trouble which may come upon us in the future.

Second, fearing possible trouble in the future will cause us to become idle. As a matter of fact, many of our so–called ‘fears of the future’ are nothing but excuses for laziness and idleness. We are too lazy to do what we know we should, but we disguise our laziness under the cover of being practical.

Third, we should not allow the prospect of trouble to stop us from taking advantage of opportunities because of all the joy we will miss if we allow the possibility of trouble to keep us from sowing and reaping.

For example, most of the prophets of doom will be telling people that right now would be one of the worst times to try any type of business venture. But it is guaranteed that someone with zeal, thought and imagination will disregard those forecasts and make a fortune during this time of economic instability, while others will be paralysed by this fear. Some will sow and reap while others will regret that they didn’t sow. Joy awaits those who will sow and reap even though there is a possibility of trouble or disaster.

Embrace Difficulties
The same is true of the difficulties involved in the Christian life. Yes, there is a prospect of future trouble; but who in his right mind would let that stand in his way of possessing the place that Christ describes. When Moses was leading the children of Israel, he had many difficulties, but he kept his eye on the prize at the end of the journey: “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb.12:24-26).

While there is life, we will keep facing the question of whether we will embrace future opportunities or allow the fear of possible trouble to discourage us from attempting anything. God is going to present us with many challenges in the days ahead. As we look at these challenges, one of the temptations will be to stop going forward and say, “Yes, it would be good to do those things, but what if something goes wrong?” Let us not let the fear of something going wrong in the future prevent us from doing what God has led us to do. If we let our fears of the future hinder us, there are so many things that we would miss.

Let us repent for the opportunities that we have missed thus far in life, and resolve that from now we will not allow the wind to keep us from sowing, or the clouds to keep us from reaping.

Editorial: HOLDING ON TO THE YOUNG - Jacob Ninan

PIZZAS + MOVIES = YOUTH MINISTRY? - Manu George

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES - Shantanu Datta

GOD’S WILL - Vivek Salins

FROM A BEAST TO THE BEST - Suresh Manoharan

THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST’S SHED BLOOD - P. Samuel Manoharam

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