In his book Seizing the Moments: Making the Most of Life’s Opportunities, the Rev. James W. Moore* argues that because of fear, timidity or insecurity, we let unique opportunities for great things in life go by. Missing a moment of opportunity, Moore contends, can be nothing less than a tragedy. It’s not always tragic, of course, as in failing to act on the idea of mailing someone a note of congratulations for something. That can lead to pangs of regret, even feelings of guilt, rather than a dreaded tragedy. Then again, just as small acts of kindness can amount to huge acts reflective of God’s extravagant love and grace, missed opportunities that we can dismiss as nothing tragic amount, in a way, to something tragic.
Here’s a blurb from the excellent preacher Moore’s book on seizing moments:
Most tragic characters of the New Testament were people who missed their moment. . . .
— The Elder Brother He missed the celebration. His pride and resentment of his brother made him miss his moment.
— The One-Talent Servant: He squandered his opportunity and missed it.
— The Priest and the Levite: They tiptoed by on the other side and missed their moment.
— The Foolish Maidens: They missed the party because they weren’t prepared to respond at the right moment.
— Pontius Pilate: He held in his hands the life of Jesus. He could have done great things, but he missed his moment.
— What about Judas? He walked with Jesus, talked with him, ate with him, heard him teach, saw him do mighty works, felt his love. Yet the tragedy of Judas’s life is that he missed his moment. . . .
Some years ago when I was a sophomore in college, a new student transferred to our school. In one classroom our chairs were in a semicircle, and he sat right across from me. Often I would look across and see him sitting there. He had the saddest face. He seemed lonley, and understandably so. He had arrived at mid-semester, didn’t seem to know anyone and was always alone. I remember feeling sorry for him and thinking I ought to make an effort to welcome him, get to know him, introduce him around, befriend him. But somehow I just never got around to it.
Then one morning I pick up a paper and was shocked to read the headline: Local College Student Commits Suicide. . . .
In my own way, I, like the priest and the Levite, had ‘passed by on the other side.’ I, like the one-talent servant, had squandered my opportunity. I, like Pontius Pilate, had ‘washed my hands.’ . . .
Ronnie Gaylord’s song says it well: ‘
‘If there’s any kindness I can show, let me show it now.’
How tragic it is when we miss our moments!
Retired United Methodist minister James W. Moore was for many years the senior pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Houston and is the author of numerous books known for their quirky titles such as Some Folks Feel the Rain, Others Just Get Wet and Yes, Lord, I Have Sinned, but I Have Several Excellent Excuses.