“Opportunities, many times, are so small that we glimpse them not and yet they are often the seeds of great enterprises. Opportunities are also everywhere and so you must always let your hook be hanging. When you least expect it, a great fish will swim by.”
This quote, said by Og Mandino, is taped next to my bedroom door in hopes that I will read it before leaving my house each day. I have been home from South Africa for a month now and I have had somewhat of a chance to process the things I have learned and experienced. Recently the idea of pursuing every opportunity placed in front of me has weighed heavy on my heart. This concept isn’t hard to understand but as I have mentioned in earlier blogs sometimes it takes being thrown into a new place where you do not know a soul for the light bulb to turn on. In South Africa I was given a choice. I had to choose whether I was going to be intentional about building relationships, meeting new people, going out of my comfort zone, making the most of every opportunity OR to ignore opportunities, shy away from taking risks, and leave without having learned a thing.
This concept is easier said than done. I am not an overly outgoing person and I think more than anyone I hate to be embarrassed. It took all of me to shake that little feeling that keeps us all from leaving our normal tendencies behind and forgetting about the comfort of staying in the background. I would constantly be in my head but so would God. He was always telling me to just ask that question, dance with that kid, play that game, and talk to that stranger. Once I took that initial step I never looked back. I was left with a new friend, a great memory, and the question, what if I didn’t take that step?
Lately I have been asking myself that question a lot. What if I DIDN’T talk to her? What if I DIDN’T ask him how he was? What if I DIDN’T play that game? What if I DIDN’T reach out to them? To be honest I am overjoyed that I am able to ask myself those questions. Though the answers to those questions are scary to think about in reality nothing will change the fact that I DID do those things therefore I do not have to ponder for long. This realization quickly led to a not-so-comforting one. The question we often ignore, what if I DID?
I simply can not stand that dreaded question. I do not miss the times when my mind would be fogged with, What if I was just a little nicer to the guy serving me coffee? What if I had taken that job that I was perfectly capable of? What if I did go see that movie with them? What if I went on that trip? This question scares me so much that I have decided I no longer want to be able to ask it. The idea of missing any opportunity that God has placed in my path is absolutely terrifying. Opportunities as big as going to Africa to just asking someone to grab a cup of coffee are important. I have yet to regret taking an opportunity that I have felt God place in my path. The idea of never having to ask myself, what if I did?, has been helping fill my journey with countless astounding and new things.
We are called to pursue Christ with every waking moment as well as pursue the things He has placed in front of us. With every moment that you are pursuing new opportunities and Christ, God is working within you. He is changing your heart to be more like His. He is walking alongside you every step of the way. God does this on purpose! There is no such thing as a coincidence, let me assure you. When you find yourself in a situation where one thing just seems to lead to another for the greater good of your life and others, I promise it is the work of God’s orchestrating. I have been practicing reminding myself this each morning. I tell myself that it is the Lord’s day, that every conversation, every moment, every unexpected turn is an opportunity. I remember to not shy away from the kindness of a stranger, to always smile even when it is not necessary, to love EVERYONE you meet whether you want to or not, and most importantly live life like Christ.This has made all the difference in my life at home and in South Africa.
I know that what I am writing down at this very moment may sound crazy. Believe me I know that it isn’t possible to be in a good mood all the time. Some days I am so overwhelmed with how much I miss Africa or frustrated with this broken world that I just can’t make conversation with everyone I meet. Sometimes I am too tired or don’t feel good enough to say yes to absolutely everything. Let me assure you that I am not writing this to persuade myself or anyone else that we are required to turn everyday into something exciting and new. There will always be days of routine, filled with thing that seem mundane, but sometimes those days have the most opportunities. Even just going out of your way to carry someone’s groceries or asking someone how they are can be an opportunity that we have the option to take. Don’t look past the mundane, don’t let a routine get the best of you, and don’t forget that God is walking with you everyday so there are bound to be little amazing moments everywhere. You just have to open your eyes enough, be intentional, and never let yourself ask the question, what if I did?