I confess. I like closure! I can’t stand loose ends. In a meeting, I’ll be the one asking, “So what have we decided?” I actually established a “Two Minute Rule” at restaurants. I eat out so much due to my job, that I decided that spending more than two minutes perusing the menus trying to decide which of the many attractive meal options I should devour would be a colossal waste of my time. So, after two minutes, I decide! I confess this to you up front so that you understand, I may be a little over the top when it comes to this particular topic. Nonetheless, I think this is a subject that has enormous implications.
I cannot tell you how many people confess to me what they always intended to do. I’ve had dozens of people tell me about a book idea they always wanted to write, but never have. They will excitedly share with me unique insights they discovered about an aspect of leadership, or church growth, or the Christian life. Then they’ll tell me that they felt that they should write it in a book, but they never got around to it.
Or people will mention that they have never gone to seminary or they always wanted to do doctoral work, but they never have. Some have enrolled in a program and been accepted by a school, but when push came to shove, they could not break free of their current lifestyle to pay the price to further their education.
Have you ever considered how many great ideas have never seen the light of day? We all know the saying that the “road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The sad truth is that many people knew exactly what they should do with their life, but they could never muster the resolve to actually get it done.
The reality is that when we fail to follow through with what God puts in our heart, it doesn’t just cost us. It also costs those who are impacted by our lives. You have no idea how many people might have been encouraged by your book, but you decided you weren’t a writer, so your ideas never made it to a larger audience. Your family’s lives would have been dramatically affected if you had earned your doctorate and had new doors of opportunity open to you, but you never paid the price of doing additional study.
The sad thing is that often it is only the flimsiest of excuses that prevents us from some of the most spectacular successes of our life. “I’m not a writer” has stopped many a great book from seeing the light of day. Yet the truth is there are innumerable ways to get a book published today. My daughter is currently using her English degree to help people with a message put it down on paper. You no longer have to depend upon a publisher to accept your work before you can publish a book. Self-publishing is huge these days, enabling anyone with a message, and the will to do what it takes, to put a book into the market. Blogging, web sites, Twitter are just some of the ways you can put your ideas into the public forum, if you are determined to do it.
The apostle Paul was someone who liked closure. When he encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he gained a new vision for his life. Now he was going to take the Gospel to the Gentiles and to stand before kings and people of influence, presenting the faith. Paul immediately immersed himself in study. He began preaching and testifying wherever he had opportunity. He was faithful in every assignment he was given. He refused to allow opposition or criticism or difficult circumstances to be an excuse for not doing what he knew should be done. And as a result, he could one day proclaim: I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:19).
Our problem is that we too readily accept the flimsiest of excuses. “I wanted a doctorate, but I was sick of school... I wanted to write a book, but I was busy... I wanted to visit Israel but it cost too much... I had a vision for my church but I had too many critics.... Dreams of a lifetime abandoned because of excuses that could have been overcome, had we only the will to do so.
Imagine what the kingdom of God and the Church would be like today, if people had followed through with what God put in their heart! Consider the enormous possibilities that exist if only people would stop making excuses and begin making progress toward achieving what God told them to do.
Take a moment to list the things you have felt impressed to do in the past. Is it to write a book? Earn a degree? Invent something? Learn a language? Travel somewhere? Begin a new career? Then prayerfully ask God how He intends to enable you to do what He has placed in your heart.
Life is too precious and brief to live it with regrets. You don’t want to look back over your life and wonder “What if” I had only had the courage and the determination to follow through with what was in my heart to do? Stop making excuses! Quit playing life safely! You only get one chance to live your life. Live it well!
This was written by Dr. Richard Blackaby, President of Blackaby Ministries International.