My family and I broke away from Illinois to head to Florida where some of Nancy’s extended family has a condo in Clearwater Beach. We enjoyed the condo last year and before the Coronavirus pandemic, we had planned to travel to Florida again this year. As we looked at the data and considered the risk, we decided to make the trip to Clearwater for some family relaxation. As Elijah prepares for his Senior year in college and the reality that he already has a job lined up to start June 2021, we knew this might be our last opportunity to travel on vacation as the seven of us.
Our trip down to Clearwater went smoothly with limited stops. At each of the stops, we took precautions to protect ourselves and others, donning our masks and regularly using our hand sanitizer. When we arrived in Clearwater, we were blessed to find respite and peace as we overlooked the Intercoastal waterway and the skyline of Clearwater.
Each day we would walk from the condo to the beach and shops near the beach. The walk, about one mile, was a great time to talk and share about life, our trip, and the day. I often was pulling the wagon with our beach supplies and Sarafina riding along. When we would get to the beach, Sarafina would get off the wagon, and I would pull the beach supplies and full cooler to our destination. It was truly a daily workout.
On one of our last days, Nancy and I were talking about fitness, nutrition, and discipline. I stated: “We have a great start on a walking regimen. We just need to keep this up when we get home.” We agreed to a regular walking regimen and a focus on fitness. Little did I know that God heard my desire and plan and was ready to challenge me when we got home.
Since our arrival home from the trip nearly two weeks ago, we have leveled ground for a small pool in our backyard; helped a friend move from an upstairs apartment to a downstairs apartment; I have responded to two fires (camper and abandoned house); shoveled out and then replaced the mulch around the church; and walked with Nancy most every day. When I made the statement about needing to keep up on a workout regimen, I did not know these opportunities would be placed in front of me to encourage my desire for better fitness.
Each day we are faced with opportunities and decisions. These opportunities and our decisions can either cause us stress and frustration or we can see them as opportunities to become stronger and a better disciplined person. It is imperative for us to look at each new opportunity through the light of Christ’s love and discipline, seeking to know how God may use the present opportunity to develop in us a new habit or a new way of living. Now, before I get much further, I admit there are opportunities we should not pursue because they are not positive or enriching. We must seek the Lord’s discernment in each opportunity. We can have faith of God’s guidance and direction, if we will only listen.
In Romans 8:28 we read, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” God will take our opportunities, whether enjoyable or challenging, and will use them to grow us up. Fighting a fire, moving furniture and boxes downstairs, and removing dirt and leveling with sand is not easy work; I am better because I made the decision to take the opportunity. I give God glory and praise for these opportunities and the growth being brought in me.
What opportunities do you need to say “Yes” so God can grow you up?