Alberta’s Rocky Mountain parks are a wonder to explore. On a recent trip down Highway 93, which winds along fast-running steams and through tall stands of evergreens, we expected the scenery to be grand and we expected to see some wildlife. Deer, elk and bears are common. So are the mountain sheep that blocked the road as we slowed to a halt to give them the right of way they demanded. I snapped a few pictures as they paused.
Perhaps because all of this was a little ho-hum to me, I had dropped my camera back into my purse when my husband put his foot on the brakes again and said, “Is that ... yeah, it is .... that’s a wolf!”
He was a big grey, his distinctive long-legged lope proving he was not one of his smaller more fox-like cousins, the coyote. I’ve seen wolves in the wild before, but never that close and never near a highway. I dug for my camera but by the time I got it up and on, all I managed to catch was his tail end disappearing into the undergrowth. I groaned for the next several miles as I thought of the lost opportunity to capture such a rare sight. I should have been ready. I should have expected the unexpected.
Sadly, we all have had moments like that, when opportunities suddenly present themselves but we fail to take advantage of them.
I remember another such moment, when I arrived, dangerously late, at an airline’s check-in counter. The flight attendant searched the computer for a seat but dismissed each one in turn with the words, “I can’t put you there with a baby.” With the other passengers already on board, she made the decision to bump me up to first class. I didn’t object and soon found myself sitting across from Bobby Hull, the famous hockey player. He was quite taken with my three month old daughter, Katie, and laughed when I explained she was the reason I’d ended up in first class. Katie has never forgiven me that on that whole long flight from Toronto to Vancouver I did not get Mr. Hull’s autograph. My defence was that I didn’t have a pen or paper. “He could have signed my diaper!” she retorted.
Another missed opportunity.
Sadly, there are opportunities around us every day, but for one reason or another, we pass them by. An agent asks for a proposal but we just can’t seem to get it done. A publisher asks to see revisions to a manuscript but the weeks tick by and it’s still sitting in a file on the computer. Someone mentions a book or a movie that has a strong spiritual element, but we don’t take the cue to move into a discussion on spiritual things. Someone is grieving for the loss of a loved one or rejoicing over something positive in their lives but we don’t say the words, “God is near” or “Praise the Lord,” for fear they won’t respond positively.
Such moments can cause regret to get a grip on our hearts. Regret can plague us for many years and can turn into a root of bitterness. But there is a way to guard our hearts against it – the way is to turn our minds from remembering the failures to remembering that Gods’ mercy and forgiveness are always available. The writer of the book of Lamentations says – “I remember my affliction ... the bitterness and the gall... and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:19-23).
Yes, great is His faithfulness. It renews us each day. Let’s remember that and carry on.
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Marcia's second novel, A Tumbled Stone has just been short listed in the contemporary fiction category of The Word Awards.