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Missed Opportunities

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

April 11, 2023

What happens when you miss your plane, especially if you miss it by an entire day? Happily, and if all goes as planned, I won’t soon learn the answer. When asked when we were leaving for vacation, Kent and I said, “Saturday.” We were wrong. Our plane departs on Friday. If I had not needed to check some reservation details, we would spend our vacation much closer to home. We would have missed the opportunity to get away.

I wonder how many opportunities we miss because we ignore the signs sent our way. What options pass by because we don’t believe we can make a difference? Some other misses can happen when we decide taking a step in a new direction is too much of a challenge.

On Easter, we heard the story of the women who went to Jesus’ tomb to see if his promise was true. Did he rise from the dead? How might our faith story be different if they had decided that doing so would be too risky? Or that the likelihood of a resurrection was too hard to believe?

Our faith teaches us that the presence and movement of the Holy Spirit always surrounds us. I believe the Spirit often works to get our attention and nudges us toward doing something different in our faith walk. Learning how to notice when the Spirit is speaking gets easier with practice.

An excellent first step is to be in conversation with God. We are likely familiar with prayers that tell God what we need and want. A full prayer life also requires time to listen as God speaks to us. We can pray silently, aloud, or even by writing or journaling as prayer.

Flexibility is essential if we genuinely want to pay attention when the Spirit of God speaks. We can be confident that God hears our prayers, but the answers may differ from what we expected. It is impossible to predict all the moments of our lives will unfold. Planning is essential, but so is leaving room for some changes.

Another step is to practice looking and listening for signs that the Holy Spirit is trying to get your attention. You might think of it as always expecting to be surprised. It means slowing down and noticing what you are sensing and feeling. What message or question lingers as you go about your day? Responding to that sort of nudge may lead to something wonderfully new in life and faith.

We’ve been praying that God would move our church to a place beyond what we know, ask, or imagine. The answers to that prayer are still emerging. We can also pray this way: “Here and now, God, I bring myself to you. Move me to a place beyond what I know, ask, or imagine. Come, Holy Spirit, come.” Amen.

Looking Ahead Kent and I are not planning to miss our plane on Saturday, er…Friday. This Sunday, April 16, our church will offer one worship service at 10:30 AM and welcome the New Beginnings Quartet. The group will share their story and some old-fashioned Southern gospel music. It will be lively worship and another opportunity to invite a friend to join you.

Rev. Mike Wondel will bring the message on the next two Sundays. When we face decisions, it can be hard to know what to do. Rev. Wonder will offer ways to approach big and small decisions with faith and confidence. We will return to our regular worship schedule of 9 am and 11 am on April 23 and beyond.

Preparing for some time away, I’m incredibly grateful for the Grace congregation. When I return, it will be with renewed energy and an ongoing readiness to join you in seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance for our next steps in faith.

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