March 1, 2021

Looking beyond the desert of this past year . . .

It is a time for new beginnings.

In the midst of this pandemic, someone said to me, “I feel like my life is on hold.” That may be the bubble in which many of us feel encapsulated.

It is time to grab hold of the reins and steer our days toward a brighter tomorrow—whether or not this virus goes by the wayside. We need not be paralyzed by the little bugger.

 

I recently heard a terrific speaker who encouraged listeners to “Dream Big,” which is a great aim. But sometimes in setting a goal too lofty we are discouraged before we even start. I’m certainly not saying don’t Dream Big, because there is great merit in that. So, go ahead, set your sights on something significant, but in the meantime, include smaller targets to help you get going.

As opposed to resolutions launched at the start of a new year—which over the long haul are generally not sustainable—taking baby steps are more doable.

Those stepping stones are in plain sight.

Look around.

  • Is there a recipe you cut out of a magazine languishing in a drawer?
  • Are there photos scattered willy-nilly that you could put into an album?
  • Is your elderly neighbor’s yard full of weeds?
  • Have you been thinking about reconnecting with an old friend but just haven’t gotten around to it?
  • How about that idea sprouting in your mind about a story or memoir you’d like to write? (One paragraph at a time is better than nothing at all.)
  • Have you been meaning to visit someone in a nursing home? Even if you aren’t allowed to enter the facility, how about making a colorful sign and holding it up outside his or her window?

What opportunities do you see—opportunities that will bless others, be good for you in the bargain, and ultimately bring glory to the Lord?

If you are stumped, ask God, “Father, what do you want me to do?”

This question stirred a scene from my memory . . .

*****

Sitting in my counseling office at the college where I worked, a thought ticker-taped across my mind: “Invite Helen to the Christian Business Women’s dinner.”

I immediately dismissed the idea since I believed Helen was an atheist.

As soon as I shoved the thought aside, it swooped back in. “Invite Helen to the Christian Business Women’s dinner.”

I mentally countered, “She won’t go.” Smug in knowing I knew best, I went back to work.

That evening, the nudge persisted to invite Helen to the Christian dinner where the goal was to fellowship and invite women to come to know Jesus. An image of Helen formed in my mind’s eye. The woman was tall, an instructor of Sociology, and a loner. Whenever I met her on campus and I said “Hi,” she would shyly return the greeting without a smile and continue on her way. I deduced she simply didn’t want to be bothered with relationships. So again, I mentally argued that Helen would not accept my invitation, so refused to entertain the suggestion.

I went to the dinner by myself. A day or so passed and I thought nothing more of the situation.

Until . . .  I arrived at my job and a coworker asked, “Did you hear Helen passed away last night?”

The statement and reality of it plunged a dagger into my heart. I went into my office, closed the door and wept. How could I have ignored—no, more than ignored—how could I have argued with the Lord and disobeyed?

That afternoon a student came to see me. As soon as she sat, she poured out her concern.

“I sensed God urging me to write Helen to invite Jesus into her heart,” she said, then went on to say she had dropped the letter in Helen’s mailbox at her home. “I just hope she read it before she died,” she said with tears in her eyes.

After the student left, I sobbed. “Oh, Lord, I am so sorry I didn’t do as you asked.”

What I heard in my spirit next left me speechless.—“You missed a blessing.”

*****

To this day I know if I pass up an opportunity, I miss a blessing.

The thing is, opportunities abound. We don’t need to wait to hear them knocking on our door, because they are always there. The Lord has limitless possibilities for us. And He has given us the ability to create opportunities. In doing so, we are freed to move forward.

Philippians 4:13 assures us that:

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

 

So, my dear readers, I encourage you to step out and do something that will make a difference in your life and in the lives of others. Put some air back in your sails. Breathe in the freshness of it.

Then I would love to hear from you what your stepping stone was/is, how it blessed you. Or perhaps you have already moved forward. I’d love for you to share how you are meeting this new year with enthusiasm and promise.

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank you for gifting me with opportunity after opportunity to give and receive blessings.

 

Thoughts for the Day:

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”—Albert Einstein

 “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.”—Francis Bacon