Chapter 16: View Obstacles as Opportunities

View Obstacles as Opportunities

I could not drive my normal route to the Atlanta airport. My phone informed me in advance where to turn and what roads to take. I expected the redirection. I had read the story.

A fire in Atlanta burned part of the interstate. Reading and hearing the reports, seeing the images, learning the details—the information prepared me for my need to take a new route. But it was different being there. It was different driving there.

Life is like that. We can study the turns we need to take. We can research the details about uneven surfaces and burned bridges and new routes and unfamiliar neighborhoods. But it’s very different when live-and-in-person. Knowing when I would need to turn wasn’t the same as making the turn. Knowing where the interstate was blocked wasn’t the same as responding to that block.

My expectations caused me to leave earlier than my always-leave-early-just- in-case agenda. My experience reminded me about the original fire which caused the problem and the homeless person involved. My route rewired more than my tour on a road, but also my thinking, my previous experiences, my history, my familiarity. My new journey taught me again that life takes us off course, off balance, off even surfaces. Fires burn bridges. People make decisions. Construction takes time. Familiarity isn’t dependable. Changes come.

What can we do?

What should we do?

Adjust. We can adapt to the new turns. We can find appreciation on the unfamiliar boulevards. We can push the worry aside and smile as we drive down streets we would’ve otherwise never visited.

Adjust to change. Don’t stare at the shadows. See where you are and where you should go. Change channels. Stop staring at the same station each day all day. View the new. Balance consistency with astonishments.

It’s easy to be complacent complainers. It’s better to be caring and coura- geous.

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  1. What disappointment has drastically altered your life?
  2. What are specific effects from that encounter?
  3. How have you responded in harmful ways?
  4. How have you responded in healthy ways?
  5. What are five key steps you could take now to find equilibrium and to turn that obstacle into an opportunity?


Chris Maxwell has done it again. Another wonderful, thought-provoking collection of ideas, thoughts, and concepts to help us live better and live well. And live by the principles in the Bible. Oh, that more people would read this and heed its guidance. We might actually begin solving problems instead of creating them. Thanks, Chris, for another great book that helps us live better.

Ron White, EdD

President, Emmanuel College