For the week of January 19, 2002 / 6 Shevat 5762
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 10:1 - 13:16
Haftarah: Jeremiah 46:13-28

Don't Miss It

There they will exclaim, "Pharaoh king of Egypt is only a loud noise; he has missed his opportunity" (Jeremiah 46:17).

A friend of mine recently asked if I thought a person could miss their calling in life. This question presupposes that each person has some sort of God-given destiny needing to be discovered. I don't know if it can be said that God intends this level of purpose for every single person, but it does seem that he intends this for some. I am not saying that these people's lives matter more than others. It just appears that some people are chosen by God for very particular purposes.

Still, throughout our lives God presents all of us with opportunities. There is certainly a general calling upon all people to make a positive contribution during our lifetime. How much effect these opportunities might have will differ from situation to situation, but I don't think that the scope of these opportunities is our concern.

We never really know how much impact we have in life. The things we do may seem very insignificant to us, especially at the time. But just as a seed is so small in comparison to what it produces, so are our deeds in relation to their results.

Our portion this week is taken from the prophet Jeremiah. It is a message to Pharaoh, king of Egypt. The choosing of this passage to coincide with this week's Torah portion is obviously because of the reference to this other Pharaoh.

Jeremiah's words to the Pharaoh of his day could have been said about the Pharaoh of Moses' day:

Pharaoh king of Egypt is only a loud noise; he has missed his opportunity (Jeremiah 46:17).

Both Pharaohs held positions of great power. Their decisions had wide reaching effects. It was in their hands to do great good and benefit many, many lives, if they would so choose. But instead they each missed their opportunity.

So I think I would have to answer "yes" to my friend's question, "Can we miss our calling?" Whether we think in terms of the smaller or greater things of life, opportunities come our way, yet we can choose to rise up to the occasion or not.

The verse I read provides us with a clue as to one of the ways we can miss our opportunities - "Pharaoh king of Egypt is only a loud noise." Some people fool themselves into thinking that they are really doing something in life because of how busy they are. They may have an active family or social life, they may undergo a great amount of pressure in their jobs. Yet they do not see that their activities act like a smokescreen blinding them from their God-given opportunities. They are missing their opportunities by making noise so to speak.

The events of September 11th happened only four months ago. Many of us have looked at life differently as a result of this tragedy. But now four months later, have we begun to respond to our God-given opportunities, or have we gone back to just making noise? Don't miss it.

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