The race you never ran. The book you never wrote. The old flame you never looked up. The exotic vacation you never took. All examples of “missed opportunities in life,” declares the luxury car advertisement in its appeal for you not to add the car you never bought to the list. Although I almost hate to admit that a TV commercial stimulated my thinking, the ad seems to crystallize the idea of how the fear of “missing out” runs deep in the human psyche. Who of us wants to reach the end of life only to discover all the could-have-beens?
Sometimes the fear of living a mediocre life threatens me more than one of failure. At least if I fail, I know I’ve tried. I’ve married up, in a sense, with the universe and positioned myself for divine intervention when I reach beyond my limitations. John Piper says there should “be a flavor about our life that is risky and radical.” I like that. I think that’s the way God designed us.
My son works for a music company in Nashville. One of the bands they manage consists of three young men who lost a close family member to an untimely death. For them, his death was a wake-up call to the brevity of life. It roused them to leave the confines of their once safe, predictable lives and take a shot at their dreams.Their willingness to take the risk and embrace the journey has already led them to places once believed to be unattainable.
So how do we sign up? How do we avoid a lifetime devoid of daring leaps of faith and radical commitments? If we want to cultivate the “flavor” Piper refers to, it starts with how we handle the smaller challenges God brings our way. We dismiss the fear of rejection and try to right a fractured relationship. We follow the nudge to give our last twenty dollars to that struggling single mom. We stare down the taunting insecurity that tries to convince us that we aren’t qualified to volunteer at that shelter or teach that class.
Whatever it is for you, don’t let the excuses lull you to sleep. God has significant works for you to do. Don’t wake up some day and lament all the “missed opportunities.”