Should Have? Could Have?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to world events and daily life.

Have you ever had the feeling you've missed the boat, or that you've let some opportunity slip by without taking advantage of it? It's a sinking feeling to think, "Gee, why didn't I do that?"

Often when we let an opportunity pass, it appears gone forever. Are we then shut off from further good? When I was a music student (my first interest was singing), one of my professors tried hard to get me to study conducting. I would have loved to have been a conductor, but I thought I did not have the instrumental training necessary. Years later I regretted my decision, thinking I should have at least tried.

What is opportunity? Is it chance occurrence? Is it a fleeting moment in time that presents limited chance for success? No. Opportunity is the perception that good is available. So often good can seem limited and hard to get. Or we may fear that, once acquired, good will slip away.

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While we may miss a particularly good opportunity, we never lose the opportunity to experience good. Christ Jesus, whom Christians regard as speaking the Word of God, addressed the issue of opportunity when he told a story about three men who were each given commodities -- "talents." One man acted boldly and put his talents to work. This action resulted in an increase of wealth. His talents were doubled. The second person did the same. But the third man, fearful that his good could be lost, buried the one talent he had, with the result that he lost both his talent and the opportunity to multiply it. This story can be found in the Bible, in the book of Matthew (25:14-30).

By putting our own talents -- our present abilities and our present evidence of good -- to work, we prepare ourselves to receive more good. Christian Science, which comes from what Jesus taught, shows God to be infinite good. God is everywhere present -- all the time, full time -- and can never be absent. Therefore good is everywhere present and available. Once a person understands this, he or she knows that opportunity is always at hand because God is always with us.

All this casts opportunity in a completely different light. We are not really going from one chance to the next. God is holding us, His creation, at the threshold of endowment. It is only the sense of ourselves as separated from God that indicates an interruption of good. The more we understand that opportunity depends on God's influence in our lives, the more readily we will seek to know Him.

So how do you best put your talents to work? By starting to acknowledge whatever is already good in your life, and seeing it as coming from God. Saying things like "I should have" or "I could have," from a standpoint of regret, is a waste of time. Jesus said, according to the book of John, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you" (14:2). Here is a thought-provoking assurance that God gives us infinite opportunities.

The "mansions" of God might be thought of as the realm of opportunity. Knowing that all good comes from God, we can perceive the fresh opportunities He always presents to us. It helps to recognize continually that He is the source of everything true. For Jesus, there was only one door of opportunity, and that was the opportunity to receive and express the truth of God. Because God is everywhere present and available, God's goodness, and the ability to express it, are always open to us. This opportunity is the door through which blessings flow to us. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, presented God as infinite Soul in her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The book says, "Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul" (p. 60).

I did not become a conductor. However, through my practice of Christian Science, other wonderful doors opened to me. I learned that fulfillment in life is found in the joy of knowing and expressing God's goodness. When we treasure this, each day is seen as presenting new opportunities.

You can find other articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.

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