Word-y Gifts for Christian Faith & Life

Faith that seizes opportunity

Eons ago, I took a job at a sales company. The team was a fun group of young people. The camaraderie was fantastic, energy levels were as high as the sky, and the boss, John, was just as much fun as everyone. John had recently purchased a big black SUV with all the bells and whistles the time offered, and every day someone would ask him if s/he could take it for a spin, even just around the block. John always refused. He then told everyone he would only allow me to drive the vehicle! If I ever wanted to take it for a spin, the keys were mine. I never asked for the keys.

Every now and then, God offers us rare opportunities, but we don’t take advantage of them because of our fears and insecurities. The story of the Israelites illustrates this well. God offered them the opportunity to take the promised land less than two years after their departure from Egypt but they were too afraid to seize it. Ten of the twelve sent to spy out the land were awed by its beauty but intimidated by the prospect of having to fight for it (Num. 13-14). They then exaggerated the obstacles and soon enough persuaded the entire community that slavery in Egypt was a better choice. Their unbelief was costly: an entire generation died in the wilderness. It would be 40 years before their children entered the land.

Here are four things to remember about the opportunities God brings into our lives. First, some of them have expiration dates. These, like the one before the Israelites, require that we obey and act when God says to act or we risk delaying our progress or losing them altogether.

Second, God’s opportunities rarely come when we think we are ready. The right house comes when we have not yet saved enough for a reasonable down payment, the right spouse comes when we don’t quite feel ready to commit, and the call to ministry comes just when things are looking up at work. But God, who holds our times in his hands (Ps. 31:15), knows when the time is right and expects us to trust him.

Third, God’s opportunities often appear too big for us. The ten spies said they felt like “grasshoppers” before the land’s occupants (Num. 13:33). Like them, we forget that not only does God fight our battles (Deut. 20:1-4), he has also given us everything we need to fulfill his designs for our lives (2 Pet. 1:3).

Fourth, God’s opportunities are always significant. Whether we understand them or not, they have implications for our future. They sometimes look small, something the unspiritual eye may regard as insignificant, but in God’s hands small beginnings often lead to big unimaginable results (Matt. 13:31-32; Zech. 4: 10).

John’s car remains to me a reminder of lost opportunities. God’s opportunities are much bigger and more rewarding than a car ride. May he grant us all the faith and courage to seize them.

Has God placed an opportunity before you? How are you responding?

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