I have been thinking about missed opportunities lately.
Will Chris Webber forever be known as the Wolverine who called a time out when there were none to be called in the 1993 NCAA Championship game?
It remains to be seen if the 2011 American League Championship Series hero for the Texas Rangers, Nelson Cruz, will ever be able to escape his error in this year's World Series.
Sports can be brutal and legacies are made or broken often with just one play - one missed opportunity.
Yet, beyond the sporting world, there are more important and deeper missed opportunities.
Perhaps I carry a fear of having far too many of these in my history.
Funerals bring this to mind. As I hear family members and friends share of their recently deceased loved one, I often hear a whisper of regret in their voices. In many times, this whisper echoes larger regrets. Things left undone or unsaid. Regret of missed opportunities.
Dr. Frank Page, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee recently spoke of missed opportunities in messages at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He uses the term "irrecoverable moments" borrowed from Billy Graham's autobiography Just As I Am.
T. Patrick Hudson and Frank Michael McCormick wrote of Page's messages recently for Baptist Press. Here are some outtakes:
At Midwestern, Page said God sometimes provides irrecoverable moments when believers have opportunities to accomplish Kingdom tasks -- and they can either get it right or get it wrong. The results of their decisions will impact life either positively or negatively forever, Page said, noting that such times come for nations, families, marriages, churches and individuals.
"The call comes for many reasons. We know that God calls to salvation, and He initiates the act of salvation," Page said in his Midwestern chapel message in mid-September.
God calls people to suffering and to service, Page continued. "We don't hear that talked about a great deal. That's not on our Top 10 list -- 'I want to suffer for Jesus,'" Page said. "In that suffering, God does something mighty special in teaching, training, edification, sanctification and growth. In the midst of that calling to suffering, He calls to offer us His loving care. Don't ever forget that."
"Is the Word of God rare now? Is God struggling to find men and women who will listen to His call and instruction?" Page asked. "We are in the most individualistic age I've ever imagined. We think we can perceive better than anyone else. It's that kind of intransient spirit that God struggles to get through. We need prepared hearts that are open and responsive to the call. Humble your hearts, be available and listen to God."
"Your irrecoverable moment is coming," Page said. "Just maybe God is doing a work in your life now that could be considered an irrecoverable moment. If you'll make a decision and you'll allow Him to do what He wants to do, He can change your life forever and the Kingdom of God will be blessed."
Dr. Page's message was targeted to seminary students, but it rings true for all believers. Moments come and moments go. Opportunities arise and are often missed. Once gone. . .they're gone.
It is through discernment we recognize the moments, the opportunites. Unlike a sporting event where a certain play or mental mistake may cost a game, a spirtual miss or inability to recognize a "God moment" is much more tragic.
May we be alert, aware and in tune with the Spirit of God so that we do not become categorized as another who missed a great opportunity.