I’ve been thinking a lot lately about missed opportunities and blown chances – about the things we could have been if we’d just stretched a little more, worked a little harder. It all goes back to sin. Isn’t it Romans 5:9 that says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (My Protestant friends will have to correct me.) It’s a little depressing to think of the glory we might have had if it weren’t for the choices we’ve made to not cooperate with the grace of God. One of my old friends used to reflect on the fact that Jesus could have sinned if He wanted to. He had free will, and He was tempted to the limit. But if He’d sinned, if He’d chosen for one instant not to be in total accord with the will of His Father, He wouldn’t have been Jesus, and we’d perhaps still be looking for a saviour.
To be honest, I haven’t been applying this so much to myself (although I could have a lot of food for thought if I did) as to others. It’s part of my personality type to see the potential in people and situations. I can see so clearly what a person could do or could be that sometimes it becomes more real to me than who they actually are. Lately I’ve had to see a few people I care about make choices not to fulfill their potential. They didn’t reach, they weren’t willing to put in the work, they weren’t open to the grace of God. I think seeing them fall short hurt more than their actual actions.
It would be easier to just not expect so much, but I think sometimes my expectations can be the greatest gift I have to give. I’ve seen people do amazing things because I believed that they could. And I don’t ever want to stop believing in other people’s best selves. So where does that leave me? Back where I started – we’re all sinners. We all fall short. But God fixes things, and it will all come out right in the end no matter how much it hurts in the short term. And compared to heaven, everything is short term.