Opportunity Knocks … Down to the Ground
It was a clarifying moment as the words etched on my mind transferred themselves from my fingertips to the screen before me. The idea went something like this: When defeat or despair arrives at your door, it can actually be an opportunity. Yes, I said O-P-P-O-R-T-U-N-I-T-Y.
This seemingly outlandish idea was triggered by a quote I stumbled upon in R. Scott Rodin’s Stewards in the Kingdom – A Theology of Life in All Its Fullness. I found it among the pile of thick seminary books that I was considering discarding – I mean, recycling – because they were occupying valuable space on my crowded shelves. I randomly opened this one and began to read about the purpose of the tree of knowledge of good and evil:
“By placing the tree and giving it this name, God said to his creatures, ‘Trust me that I, who know good and evil, have chosen for you only good and rejected all that is evil. Trust me by refusing to grasp for yourself that same knowledge.’ God gave to his creature the gracious opportunity for loving response.”
The gracious opportunity for loving response. The words sunk in and began to simmer. God actually placed the tree in the garden to give Adam and Eve a chance to respond with love to affirm their trust? That explanation caused me to pause and contemplate my own life. Could the circumstances I encounter, even the unwelcome ones, be “opportunities” in disguise? This has never been my thinking. Opportunities usually come neatly packaged in hope, excitement, and anticipation – something positive, never despair. Could I trust God that adversity, too, is actually for my own good?
Throughout my life, I have learned that disappointment, despair, rejection, or attacks usually provide an opening, a chance to respond. And as I have prayed and allowed these words to saturate the circumstances of my own life, I began to notice a shift in my attitude – seeing unwanted situations not as something to conquer or problems to be fixed but as opportunities to show love. And often it’s a love that hurts, a love that truly suffers.
In our conflicted world, this kind of opportunity will continually knock, sometimes beating me all the way to the ground. But the next time it arrives at my doorstep, my approach will be different. Now with conviction and clarity, I will lean on God for strength to stand back up to embrace these opportunities with a loving response - and to take God at his word when he said, “Trust me.”
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6 NRSV