There is a familiar quotation that says: “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect, for I shall not pass this way again.”
Those lines serve to remind us, during this season, of the transient nature of life. It does not stand still. It is constantly on the move. And once any part of life has passed us by, it is gone forever. We can never get it back again.
We need that reminder because we tend to forget what a priceless treasure is ours. Every one of us in this community has at least a fighting chance to do something good and useful with his or her life.
This, of course, is not true of every person on earth. The opportunities of life are not evenly distributed. Some have more opportunities than others. And some seem to have little or none at all.
Thank God, we do have more opportunities than most people in our world. All of us have, in some measure, been touched by God’s truth. By the grace of God flowing through the lives of other people, we have been given a reasonable start in life. Most of us have the kind of opportunity of which many people only dream. We need to remember that.
But we also need to remember that opportunities do not last forever. They come and they go. There comes a day when the door is closed on certain opportunities, never to be opened again.
How many fathers or mothers are there who do not look back with some sense of regret? They wish they had been more patient and understanding. Or they wished they had been more firm and decisive. Almost all wish they had spent more time with their children when they were small. But those days have come and gone. Now, their children are grown, and that door of opportunity is closed forever. It can never be opened again.
How many children look back with regret? They were honestly and sincerely busy with pressing responsibilities and had little time for aging parents. There was a well-known phone number, but they seldom dialed it. There was a familiar house on a familiar street, but they rarely stopped there. Now if they dial the number, a stranger answers. And it does no good to stop at the house; someone else lives there. That opportunity has come and gone. That door is closed forever.
How do we handle the wasted opportunities of life? It is useless to beat on the door now. God Himself cannot reopen it. It is foolish to blame ourselves with feelings of guilt. They serve no purpose.
But we can learn from the past. We can entrust our failure to the grace of God. He has promised to forgive all of our iniquities. We can count on Him to do that.
Then we should become more sensitive to the opportunities that are ours today. We can seize the moment. So make the phone call; write the letter; say the word; hug the person; give the gift. Remember: opportunities do not last forever. Take advantage of them now, while they are here. Perhaps this can be one of our New Year’s resolutions!