Throughout life, we are faced with a number of decisions we must make that could either propel us into our futures or hold us back from what we are meant to achieve. These choices are called opportunities and are dependent on our responses to their knocks on our door. Often times, opportunities are afforded to us by God's own divine hand. So how do we, as we seek to do God's will in our lives, make the most out of every opportunity laid in our path?
Well, first things first, with every opportunity comes the obvious question: Is this right for me? It doesn't matter what the opportunity is, from a new job to robbing a bank, good and bad opportunities leave us with the same question which, when answered with lead us to action. Some opportunities have obvious answers. It's never right to rob a bank, no matter who you are. It is always right to help someone in need if you have the means and opportunity to do so. You don't need a pros and cons sheet for those things; you don't even need to pray for days on end to know what choice you should make. Especially if you have even a a minuscule amount of knowledge of God and His will, you can make these decisions quite easily (even if your brain would like to argue with you for a while on the subject. But, there are some opportunities that are not so clear cut and, as a believer, you might not even find anything specifically written about it in the Bible. "Should I take this new job even though it moves myself and/or my family away from everything else in my/their lives?" or "Should I enroll in this training course for the opportunity to better myself even if that means sacrificing something else to do so?" even "Do I take this detour for the opportunity to make my commute faster, even though it might make me late instead?" We are faced with opportunities all the time, it's just a part of life!
Having a Master's degree in Intelligence Studies and being a counter-terrorism intelligence expert, I have been trained to see every moment as an opportunity for good, and for bad. My brain thrives off of SWOT Analysis (the technique of analyzing an event or decision on its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) and I regularly only make decisions from an analytical standpoint, devoid of emotion. In a way, I think this is how God wants us to approach every decision in our lives too, viewed from the lens of His Word and Will.
The Bible says, "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV). God recognizes that emotions and our mind can be fickle. He knows that, when left to our own devises, we can often times choose what feels good or easy, over what is good and right (if sometimes difficult). That's why, when faced with a decision, an opportunity, we must begin to examine it against what we know God says and His will for us. "What does the Word say about this? What if I can't find my answers spelled out specifically in the Bible? Can I read Biblical accounts from Old and New Testament characters that highlight the same decisions I am being asked to make? Are these rules and commands set out against this opportunity that I would be going against if I said yes?" These are the questions we are tasked to answer first and foremost if we expect ourselves to make the most out of every opportunity laid out before us. If you can find Biblical backing to your decision, than you can move forward in the decision making process. If not, then you will absolutely be better off to turn down such opportunity, regardless of how enticing it might be.
So, if you have found Biblical backing to the opportunity at hand, the next thing you must do is ask yourself, "Do I have peace when I think about taking up this opportunity?" Say you are going to take up a new job in a different state. Surely work and providing for oneself and family is not only Biblical, but is commanded by God; but, just because something is backed by the word, does not mean it is right for this moment. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says,
"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace." (NLT)
Something might well be meant for us, good for us, but not in this very moment. God is all about timing and His timing is perfect. If we rush ahead, it will be as if it was never meant for us in the first place; and if we lag behind, we might miss the best opportunity we have ever received. So, this is why we must look toward Godly wisdom of peace. What is God telling us about this moment through the circumstances around it? Will this cause strife? Will it help pull us away or closer to God? Will it fulfill our duty of the Great Commission? For this we must not only have truth, but timing and wisdom.Once we have peace, we are almost there.
The final step of making the most of every opportunity comes after we make our decision. After understanding, reflection, and the seeking of wisdom, we must ultimately make a choice. This could be scary! "Did we hear God right? Did we really seek truth or the truth that we wanted? Are we making a big mistake?" Please tell me that I am not the only one that has ever had this internal conversation. yet, when we make a decision, after doing our best to consult God's Will and Word, we need to move into trust. We can never dive in fully and make the most of every opportunity if we don't trust that God does speak to us and care about our lives. We need to trust that the best we can do is seek Him first and then He will take care of the rest. This is the hard part, because we want a backup plan in case things go astray; but, that's not God's intention either. He is our plan a, b, c, d... z. He is who we need to fall into and say "If this is for me, God will surely make it so, if I messed up, God will help me to correct where I went wrong.
Once we do this, we are going to be able to see the path more clearly, the opportunity more fully, and life through God's eyes. So, don't be afraid to step out when opportunity comes to call. If you have God at your side, whom shall you fear? (Psalm 27:1)