Have you realized that life moves at an alarmingly consistent rate? It doesn’t stop and it never slows down. I reflected last week on how quickly my kids are growing up. My oldest will be driving in two short years. My youngest is hitting double-digits in a few months. Yikes! I’m reminded of the old saying, “the days drag on, but the years fly by.” Like a river flowing, if we wait for time to stop, we will never jump into it and the moments will pass us by. It’s true of parenting, and it’s true of life in general.

In 1 Samuel 14, we see Jonathan refusing to let life pass him by. He was faced with what seemed like insurmountable odds. The powerful Philistines were well-trained and well-equipped, while the nation of Israel had only 600 men and two swords among them. They were paralyzed with fear. If I were going to storm the enemy with that kind of opposition, I’d need a direct verbal command from God. But Jonathan didn’t receive a direct command from God, he simply saw an opportunity and seized it. Listen to the way the event was recorded, “One day Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” (1 Samuel 14:1) Jonathan decided to live rather than be content with life passing him by. He decided to be an active agent in his story, rather than a passive observer.

Jonathan took a step of faith, by taking the initiative. The Apostle Paul encouraged the church at Ephesus to be the same kind of people. In Ephesians 5:15-16 he wrote, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.” The phrase “making the best use of the time” could be translated as “buying back the opportunities.” We buy back the opportunities by making the most of every moment and refusing to be sideline observers of our own lives.

Buying back opportunities is a challenge because it requires that we embrace the unknown. Ancient cartographers used to mark unexplored areas on maps with the statement, “there may be dragons.” It was their way of saying, “We’re not sure what’s out there. It might be dangerous, it might be glorious, we don’t know.” As we embark on a new year, we also step into uncharted territory. We have no idea what the next 12 months have in store for us. There may be dragons! However, we get to make the choice to “buy back the opportunities.” We get to choose to live, rather than simply exist.

The scriptures invite us to see and discern the world in front of us and ask God how he wants us to imaginatively live in a way that brings his kingdom, goodness, and love. Just like Jonathan, we face opportunities in front of us brilliantly disguised as obstacles. What opposition is God inviting you to step into with a renewed “let us go” attitude? Existing is a given, but living is a choice. Today, choose to live.

Ryan Paulson

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