I was recently asked to share with some of the LifeChurch.tv staff what has been on my heart lately. I knew immediately what topic I wanted to write about: opportunity. Christmas Eve is one of the days of the year full of opportunities to share Christ’s amazing love with a broken world. Praying God opens your eyes to every amazing opportunity you encounter today.
Opportunity. Many of us are Americans because of this word. Many of our ancestors left home, crossed an ocean and came to a totally new and foreign land because it was called the land of opportunity. And if you’re a parent, you probably want to provide your kids with opportunity. You probably wish they could have more opportunities and better opportunities than you ever had.
People have sacrificed to give their kids and their families better opportunities. I think God is no different. At great personal expense, He gave up His Son so we would have the *opportunity* to have a relationship with Him. As Jesus said, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10)
So it has been without apology that I have been praying for better opportunities. I pray boldly for better opportunities, for the wisdom to recognize them, for the courage to seize them, and for the stewardship to use them well.
One of the best opportunities I ever had came when I was a student ministry leader about 8 years ago. I came into church and one of my guys was sitting off alone, so I went to talk to him realizing something was wrong. Pretty clearly I found out what was wrong, but I didn’t really know what to say or do so I just listened and prayed. As I was leaving church, I was mad at myself for not really knowing what to say or do, so I just prayed that God would give me the opportunity to build a good relationship. I prayed for opportunity.
God answered that prayer. He rained down more opportunity than I could have ever even imagined, and it is crazy to me to sit here and think about all the great things that have happened in the last 8 years. It is crazy to think that we are soon approaching a full decade of a great relationship of a “rich and satisfying life”.
As I have been back to God, unapologetically asking for more opportunity, I’ve learned more about what it takes.
Opportunity takes faith. God doesn’t tell us the outcomes of our opportunities. Moses’ opportunity ended in his people free, but not quite in the promised land. Jeremiah’s opportunity ended with his people enslaved and ignoring his warnings. Jesus’ opportunity seemed to end with a brutal death on the cross. I think opportunity takes enough faith to believe that God will provide success, but great opportunity requires great faith in a great God that will make failure OK too.
Opportunity takes obedience. God calls us to do various things in our life that will be very hard. Many of us found it hard to obey the call to begin working at LifeChurch.tv, to do this little thing called YouVersion or Church Online or Digital Missions. Many of us will find it harder when God moves us on and calls us to be obedient in a new assignment with new opportunities. But to get to those opportunities, we have to pass through and be obedient. Every time I’ve gulped and said, “I don’t know how this is going to work, but I’m going to be obedient and trust you anyway” has been met with more opportunity than I can imagine.
Opportunity takes faithfulness. One of the greatest attributes of God I have been exploring lately is faithfulness. How God perseveres in my life even when I don’t give Him a reason to. We need faithfulness as well. We must persevere with God even when circumstances don’t give us a reason. We must press on, finishing the race set before us.
Opportunity brings opposition. As I type this, this is particularly relevant to me. We’re hitting YouVersion’s biggest time of the year when more people will be connecting with God’s word than ever before. And today I woke up not knowing how I was going to accomplish everything I needed to accomplish, only to have the RAM die in my laptop eating a few precious hours of productivity, and a major hard drive failure will eat at least a day of time and sap precious resources. I always dislike resorting to the whole spiritual warfare thing, because I think it makes the enemy seem a lot more powerful and cunning than he really is in ordinary circumstances. The things God calls us to do are impossible without Him. That doesn’t change whether there’s an enemy working against us or not. The very things we do oppose our doing them.
I’ve got a lot of opportunity in my life. I am back in student ministry again, praying that opportunity would rain down, and it’s raining cats and dogs. I love every second of it. I think Luke 6:38 really applies, it is one of my favorite verses in the Bible ever, and while it is frequently used to talk about tithing and generosity, I think there is a lot more power in Jesus’ words. I think anytime we trust God with something – our whole lives, our families, our gifts, our money, our wisdom, our everything – God brings back more opportunity than we can ever ask, think or imagine.
“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” -Luke 6:38
Let’s imagine big. Imagine what opportunity God can do if we trust and obey.