Things may not have gone your way in the past, but God has new opportunities in front of you.
When I look back over my life, I can see where I’ve missed out on some God-given opportunities. Maybe you are saying the same thing. If so, I want to encourage you: Don’t live in regret. Don’t let lost opportunities make you feel disappointed and discouraged. God is bigger than your lost opportunities. He can still get you where you need to go in life.
Have you ever used one of those GPS directional systems in your car? You set the location where you want to go, and the GPS calculates the best route. You can be driving along and get distracted and completely miss the street where the GPS instructed you to turn, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never reach your destination. That GPS system will instantly recalculate the route, based on your present location. God works in a similar way. He is constantly giving us direction, speaking to our hearts, leading us by granting peace or unrest in our spirit, but even when we miss His instructions—and we all do from time to time—He will recalculate our route and get us back where we need to be.
I love what the Apostle Paul said: “This one thing I do; forgetting those things which are behind, I reach forth to the things which are before me.” He was saying that we must turn our thoughts toward the present and future and keep looking for the new opportunities in our paths. Be prepared, because God is ready to fulfill the dreams and desires He’s placed within your heart. He loves to restore opportunities that once seemed lost forever. And sometimes He brings those opportunities back in ways we haven’t considered or weren’t looking for. It may not always be the way we thought; but if you’ll stay open, God will bless you beyond your wildest dreams.
One Christmas several years ago, I was longing to do something special for God. I began thinking of all the women in shelters and homes around the city and I felt a strong desire to make some Christmas baskets, filling them full of perfume and toiletries, and taking them to a women’s shelter. I was excited about my idea and I searched through the yellow pages to find a nearby shelter. When I dialed the number, a woman answered, and I immediately began sharing my heart, telling her what I wanted to do, and how I hoped to make the women at the shelter feel special. But rather than getting excited with me and giving me the information I needed, she began to grill me with questions. She said, “This is a private facility and the women need to remain anonymous.” Then she asked, “Have you been abused? Do you know somebody who has been abused? Do you need help, are you looking for help?”
“No,” I said. “I just want to brighten the day for some women.” She went on and on as though she hadn’t even heard me, apparently thinking that I was trying to disguise some abuse that I had suffered. Finally I ended the conversation and hung up the phone in frustration. I thought to myself, I’ll call back tomorrow and speak to someone else. But as life would have it, I became busy with family holiday projects, and before I knew it, the holidays were whizzing by and I had missed the opportunity.
A few days after the holidays had ended, I was praying when I thought about the Christmas baskets and the opportunity I had allowed to slip away. I told God that I felt I had lost my determination and had let those women down somehow. I asked Him to present another opportunity to me and I promised that this time I would see it through.
Several months went by, and then one day I received a telephone call from The Bridge, a women’s shelter in Houston similar to the one I had contacted. A woman named Jackie was on the other end of the phone line. “Hi, Victoria, I’m the director of The Bridge,” she told me, “and I attend Lakewood Church. I want to invite you to speak at my Women of Distinction Awards program. It’s a benefit for the women’s shelter.” She told me about the event and who would be there—city leaders, business leaders, and others. Clearly she was so happy and proud of this event. As she was speaking, I thought about those Christmas baskets I had wanted to make for the women’s shelter several months earlier, as well as the prayer. I was honored by her request, and I immediately said yes. When I hung up the phone, I thought, Oh, God, those Christmas baskets would have been so much easier! Couldn’t I have just started there? At the time I didn’t have experience speaking in front of large audiences. I had butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it! But, even though I was nervous about the speaking engagement, I felt this was the opportunity I had prayed for.
I worked so hard to prepare my presentation and rehearsed what I would say, practicing over and over in my mind. After the event, I felt I had done the best I could and I was happy about what I had accomplished and what I had experienced that day. Following my speech, I was elated when several of the attendees congratulated me, telling me how inspiring my talk had been to them. Later I was told that a professional athlete and his wife were so moved by my presentation that they made a large donation to the shelter. I was so encouraged.
It took faith and work, but it was marvelous to see how God brought back an opportunity I had missed.
I know God can do something similar for you. Everyone has missed opportunities to do something good, to help somebody, or even to go to the next level in our career. For one reason or another, we’ve allowed that opportunity to slip through our fingers. But let bygones be bygones; don’t get trapped in the past. Don’t allow yourself to focus on the things you’ve missed or could have done better. Allow Him to bring back any opportunities that you may have missed.
Joel’s sister, Lisa, and her husband, Kevin, tried for years to have children, but Lisa was not able to conceive. She went through all the fertility treatments and even several surgeries, but still no baby. Finally the doctor told Lisa there was nothing more he could do; they weren’t going to be able to have children. Lisa and Kevin were devastated. It looked like their dreams had died, but God always has a plan. One day out of the blue Lisa received a call from Nancy Alcorn of Mercy Ministries, a home for at-risk young women based in Nashville.
“Lisa, I normally wouldn’t do this,” Nancy said, “but we have a young woman who is about to give birth to twin girls, and we were wondering if you and Kevin might be interested in adopting them.”
Lisa and Kevin had not yet considered adoption since they were still hoping to have children naturally, but suddenly Lisa’s interest was piqued.
“There’s only one problem,” Nancy said. “I know you and Kevin have most of the qualifications that the birth mother wants for the adoptive parents, but she also has a stipulation that her babies should be placed in a family with twins in their background.”
Nancy had no idea that Kevin had a twin sister, and as soon as she said that, something inside Lisa’s heart confirmed this was a “God opportunity.” A few months later, Lisa and Kevin adopted those twin baby girls, and then three years later, they adopted another “Mercy” baby boy.
God gave Lisa and Kevin three children they could not have had naturally. Their hearts were open for what God wanted to do in their lives even though it wasn’t the way they first anticipated. God gave them another opportunity to be the parents they desired to be. They could have just as easily given up and closed their minds, but they didn’t. They remained open and God brought back that opportunity in a different way. Lisa will tell you, “These children came straight from my heart. I couldn’t have had better children!”
I believe God is saying to us today, “I can restore the years that you’ve lost.” Things may not have gone your way in the past and you think your dreams have died, but God has new opportunities in front of you. He wants the rest of your life to be better than ever.
Victoria Osteen, author of Love Your Life (Copyright © 2008 by Victoria Osteen), has always had an infectious passion and enthusiasm for life. A native Houstonian, Victoria began her career in her family's jewelry business and now works with the most precious treasure of all—people. As a bestselling author and co-pastor at Lakewood Church, she is an inspiration and mentor to women everywhere as she ministers alongside her husband, Joel, and sets a wonderful example for their two children, Jonathan and Alexandra. Victoria is active in her community and committed to helping women, children, and families discover their purpose and reach their highest potential. Visit Victoria’s website at victoriaosteen.com.
Buy the book Love Your Life and read an excerpt here.