Throughout my life, I have heard of people who bemoan the lack of opportunities they have been given. I have to ask, what would they have done if the opportunity had presented itself? Would they have been prepared to grab hold of the unexpected opportunity?
I first realized the lesson of grabbing unexpected opportunities when I was in High School. In my High School, Gibbs, I was one of a small group of Christians. Looking back, I realize it was a rough city school. However, I actually enjoyed Gibbs. A few friends and I began to meet at school for prayer. We asked God to give us opportunities to share His love and message with our classmates. One morning one of us said something like: “What would we do if an opportunity presented itself?” This set us on a journey of preparation. We began to study the Bible more intently, sought training and advice. We wanted to be ready when God answered our prayer. Soon opportunities presented themselves through a flood of circumstances. I remember, on one such occasion, a friend Ben, a self-proclaimed Satanist, asked if he could look at my Bible. I marked a passage I thought would intrigue him. Day after day, he would sit in the back of the class and read the passages I marked for him. He began to ask questions. I didn’t always have the answers, but I would find the answers, and we would discuss them. By the way, I am so thankful for the adults who served as leaders in my High School student ministry. They were such a big help. Back to the story… One day we had a study period, and he declared that he was ready to accept Christ. Right in the back of Biology class, Ben gave his heart and life to Jesus Christ. By God’s grace, I was able to grab hold of this unexpected opportunity.
There is an old Latin saying: “Fate rewards the prepared ones.” It is probably better understood as “The fates reward the prepared ones.” Ancient Romans believed that the fates were female personifications of destiny who directed the lives (and deaths) of humans and gods. Now I don’t accept this belief from mythology. But, I do believe that opportunities are more apparent to those who are prepared and that God provides opportunities to those who are prepared.
In Ruth 3:1-18, we discover a passage that beautifully displays the interaction between God and human efforts. God uses Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, to prepare Ruth so that she can seize an opportunity when it presents itself. Now I understand that we are not to step ahead of God, but we are not to lag behind Him either we are called to keep in step with Jesus. When we face unexpected opportunities, we can either become paralyzed by fear of the unknown or step out by faith in what we know to be true of God. Preparation helps us keep in step with Jesus and, therefore, grab hold of unexpected opportunities.
God is at work in the world, but he does not always work by direct intervention, but within the righteous acts of His followers, who grab hold of unexpected opportunities. Preparation is actually a sign of trust. The person preparing is trusting God for an opportunity. In this sense, I don’t see preparation as passive, but I would warn that it is not a guarantee of specific opportunities presenting itself. I will prepare and trust God with the results. I see unexpected opportunities as gifts from God. I want to be ready, and when opportunities present themselves, be prepared to open the gift. Side note, not all opportunities are right or good, but that is a topic for another time. I am speaking of opportunities God allows or places in our path to seize.
Imagine what it would be like for each of us to grab hold of unexpected opportunities in a way that honors God. I am so thankful I was able to do so in the back of my High School Biology class. It radically changed Ben’s life and mine as well. I believe grabbing hold of unexpected opportunities will change us, as well as the world around us. I pray God will help each of us be prepared to see and seize unexpected opportunities.
It is a blessing to be on mission with each of you. Let us encourage one another to intentionally be prepared while praying that God will give us eyes to see and courage to grab hold of unexpected opportunities. We and the world around us will never be the same. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!