Many years ago, I was a full-time radio person in a local Christian station. The salary was barely enough to pay the bills and I was looking for a way to make a few extra dollars. I went to one of the local television stations and filled out an application. I was hoping to do some “voice over” work on commercials. As I was finishing the paperwork, someone burst into the room where several of us were sitting and said, “Anyone know where I can get a weekend weather person?”
The thought of doing actual on-air work where people could see me scared me to death at that moment. So I kept quiet and shook my head. Since then, I have wondered what would have happened if I had taken the chance and stood up and said, “Right here!”
Of course, there is no guarantee that I would have gotten the job, but my failure to respond guaranteed that I did not get the job. Shortly after that, I began the process of returning to the ministry and that led to almost 30 years of pastoral service. I doubt that I would have responded to the ministerial call, had I begun a career on television.
Since that day, I have had many more opportunities to make choices, as we all do. We wonder about “the road not taken” and realize that it has made all the difference. When I was on leave from the ministry, finishing up my doctor of ministry degree, I turned down two offers to take full-time jobs in radio again.
I have come to believe two things to be true. First, we never accomplish anything by dwelling in the past. It is a wonderful place to visit, but we cannot stay there. No matter what our choices at the time, if we made them for good reason, we must trust that we made the right choice and that we went where God was leading us. I believe I did more positive things for the world by following the lead of the Holy Spirit back into the ministry. I may not have had the worldly success I might have had, but in the end, that is unimportant.
The second is that even when we may have made a mistake and chosen the wrong alternative, God can still redeem that choice and make the best of it. Every choice closes the door to some options, but also opens the door to other possibilities. I have worked with inmates in prison who know they made some bad choices. But many of them learn that, through chapel programs and other channels, their lives can still have meaning and purpose. Even a “lifer” can “bloom where they are planted”.
I met a 94-year-old woman in a nursing home many years ago. She had the most positive attitude. So many of the people there were down and depressed. But she took it upon herself to be a cheerful presence in their lives. She was very hard of hearing and could barely see, but she could wheel her chair down the halls and talk to her neighbors and staff. She was a ray of light in a dark and dismal place.
So what is important is not what choices, good or bad, we made in the past. What is important is what we are going to do today and tomorrow. As long as we have breath, there is something we can do. Maybe we can’t do what we used to be able to do, but we can still do something. There is a beautiful song on the Eagles’ “Long Road out of Eden” album called “Do Something.”
It’s too easy not to care
You’re not ready for the rockin’ chair
Get up and do something
Don’t wait too long
Even if it’s wrong
You’ve got to do something
It’s not over
No, it’s never too late.