The doorbell rang. I stopped breathing. The doorbell rang again. I froze.
Sitting at my antique roll top desk, submerged in emails, I felt light-years away from the sound coming at my front door. Figuratively speaking, I was somewhere over the Atlantic flying home to my native land. This first day post international travel found me nursing a jet lag hangover, and wearing my virtual office attire (aka robe and slippers). My body had arrived, but my soul had not.
Three options presented themselves, like multiple choice:
- Go to the door, open the door, and face the embarrassment
- Go to the door, talk through the door, and minimize the embarrassment
- Don't go to the door at all; completely eliminate the embarrassment
Face? Minimize? Eliminate? You guessed it; option number 3 won. I elected not to go to the door. After all, it could be Fed Ex, Terminix, UPS or the US post. None of these needed a greeting. So, positioning myself where I could see the top of the person’s head (which I did NOT recognize) I waited until the human left. Only later did I painfully discover that the missed opportunity was actually a dear friend whose company I not only desired, but needed. She dropped by as a surprise to welcome me home. In her wake, she left a lovely bouquet of flowers. Her text read, "You are a bright spot in my life like the color of the flowers and you are missed when you aren’t here."
Grrrrr…. Shame on me. I felt so stupid.
Imagine if I had gone to the door. Squeals of excitement would have exploded for all the world to hear. The virtual office attire would have been a non-issue…this was my friend! How incredibly kind of her to come by; after all she was 50 miles from her own home. Missed opportunity. Pulling her inside, I would have immediately grabbed her coat, started the electric kettle, and set about making Afternoon Tea.
Confident of her desire to hear about my recent trip, I would have talked ninety miles an hour, updating her on God’s work in southeast Africa. Details - lots of details - from the lives our co-laborers in South Africa, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Madagascar. With uncommon eagerness, her heart would have been in her listening...she is like that. Stories fresh off the press and off the plane would emerge - stories of:
- Faithful leaders surging forward for The Kingdom using soccer balls, basketballs and golf balls
- A pair of believers praying all night for God to deliver food for the participants of a sports festival (The hundreds of participants had arrived, and the food had not.)
- Specific answers to prayers she prayed for the devotional I taught
... if I had just opened the door. But I did not. I ducked, dodged, and decided to wait for the caller to leave.
Let's face it. Life often involves a missed opportunity, and you and I must decide how we will respond. Life moves on, but do we? Sometimes the opportunity is small; sometimes it is large. (Another time I will tell you of the missed opportunity for an Afternoon Reception with Laura Bush.) Yet regardless of size, the first step forward is raw honesty. This behooves us to delete from our vocabulary such phrases as:
Big deal, who cares?
It doesn’t really matter...
I didn’t care anyway…
Not true! I do care. It does matter. So therefore, how do I rebound?
Getting past the power of the punch of a missed opportunity involves incorporating two In’s into our lives and our thinking. Two In’s enable us to move on. These In skills are needed both at the time you and I experience a missed opportunity, and each time in the future when we recall the missed opportunity.
In everything give thanks. (I Thessalonians 5:18) God has instructed us to thank Him. We Believers miss the opportunity to move ahead when we refuse to stop and simply submit our experience of disappointment into the loving Hands of an understanding God.
In acceptance lies peace. (Elisabeth Elliot) It happened. Opportunity knocked at my door – literally – and I missed it. I am faced with resistance or acceptance. This is not being fatalistic, rather realistic.
Having shared this, you can be assured the next time my doorbell rings, I will think on the words from Ephesians 5:15-16: "Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity..." Yes!
Living with eternal intentionality: How about you? When is the last time you missed an opportunity? How did you recover?