Opportunity is an open door

What is opportunity? Have you ever taken the moment to think about it? It’s those common words that sometimes I’m not sure I actually know the definition of. Sometimes it’s the words you say all the time that you don’t know what they actually mean.

For me, I’ve always defined opportunity as the chance to accomplish something. Come to find out, that’s kind of what it actually means. So it’s nice to know my vocabulary is still hanging in there. But think about that. The Chance to Accomplish Something. Even including the word chance gives it an entirely new meaning. Because if you have to have a chance to accomplish something, that means you will encounter other times when you don’t have a chance.

Opportunity is a time when you are in a position to do something. It could be anything. Something huge and life altering. Something small and personal. Whatever. But one thing won’t change: Your opportunity doesn’t stick around forever.

You have a chance to do something at that moment, and if you don’t seize the moment, you might lose it. And you might never get it back.

Today’s verse is Galatians 5:13.

Open gate at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburg, Scotland, UK

Open gate at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburg, Scotland, UK

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

If you’ve made that all-important decision to follow Christ, every day you wake up is another opportunity. God gives us all sorts of chances to do all sorts of amazing things in a day’s time, but the question is, are we paying attention? Are we taking advantage of the opportunities God gives us?

I wish I could say I did. I wish I could tell you that I always jump at the opportunities God sends my way, but I don’t. Sometimes I hide from the opportunities He gives me because I’m afraid or because I’m relying on my own strength and knowledge. And that’s not how we’re supposed to live.

Say you’re walking down the street, and the person in front of you drops money. That’s an opportunity. That’s your chance to accomplish something. But what you accomplish is up to you. If you want to serve yourself, it’s your opportunity to steal, to knowingly take something that doesn’t belong to you. But if you want to please God, it’s your opportunity to help someone else and maybe even tell them about your faith.

That’s what opportunity is. It’s keeping your eyes open and seeing the open doors God has given you every moment of every day and choosing to walk through them for His glory and not for your own.

In America, we have freedom to do many things that other countries only dream of. We aren’t limited (generally speaking). We can roll out of bed one morning and decide to start a business, and if we have the finances or the credit to be able to do it, we can do it. Do you know how rare that is for other people?

But just because you have the freedom to do whatever you want doesn’t mean you can use it to do what is wrong. That’s where we slip up. We think because we’re free that we can do anything and everything. And maybe there’s truth to that, because you certainly can do whatever you want. As a Christ-follower, you can break every rule you can think of, and if you truly belong to God, He won’t cast you out. He won’t protect you from your consequences either. But you are free to do whatever you want.

So Paul is encouraging us to love each other instead of fighting with each other. You can use your freedom to do whatever you want, but why spend it hurting others? Why use your freedom to destroy relationships or ruin your physical health? Instead, use the freedom you have–make the most of your opportunities–to do good for others, to help others, to serve others in the name of Christ.

Those are the opportunities you should be taking. Those are the chances you should be seizing.

So the next time you see the open door of opportunity in front of you, what are you going to do? Sure, you can serve yourself. That’s what most people will do anyway. But if you really are a Christ follower, and you want to see Him do something amazing in your life and in the lives of other people, take that opportunity to serve someone else. Focus on someone else.

If you have the opportunity to help somebody, take it. And do it in the name of Christ. You’ll be amazed at what happens in your heart and in the hearts of the people you’re helping.

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The crooked path to the top of Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs, CO

Opportunities aren’t accidents

Have you ever had the opportunity to sit back and watch God work? There have been moments in my life where I’ve been able to see Him working in ways that only He could, but  I can honestly tell you that I’ve never seen Him so obviously than in the last six months.

God has opened so many doors. He’s been so present and has provided for me in so many different ways that I can’t even begin to explain it all. And I can trace it all back to a single moment in January this year when I finally said Yes to what He’d been telling me to do since last August.

God has plans, and they’re good plans. And He doesn’t just dump people into the midst of His plans when they aren’t prepared or equipped. Maybe they aren’t prepared or equipped when it starts, but by the time God says go, they’re ready.

But no matter how life works out, one thing is certain: We can plan and prepare and try to make up our own minds about our futures all day long, but God is the one who truly calls the shots. And we can either get on board with that or we can keep hurtling helter-skelter down a path we’re forging on our own, blind and ineffective until we wear ourselves out and end up going back to Him anyway.

The crooked path to the top of Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs, CO

The crooked path to the top of Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Jeremiah 10:23.

I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.
    We are not able to plan our own course.

So much of life is waiting. I’ve blogged about that before. I hate waiting. I hate it. I want to be up doing something, preparing for what’s ahead so I can anticipate and control a situation and pretend like I have some type of command.

I’m trying to learn to love waiting, and in the last six months, I’ve made great strides toward that because it’s become more apparent to me than ever how and why God makes us wait.

I was talking to a friend in the Starbucks parking lot the other night about baking cakes. When you mix up a cake and throw it in the oven, it would be so much easier to just eat the batter right then. Cake batter is awesome. But it’s not cake. If you want cake, you have to wait (yes, even if the cake is a lie, you still have to wait).

God often calls us to a time of waiting so we can develop and grow and get stronger and learn what we need to learn. Maybe we just need to learn how to trust Him.

Waiting isn’t punishment or a curse. It’s a gift, marvelous, quiet downtime when you realign and get your thoughts straight and focus on grounding yourself in truth. Because when God says jump, you’d better be ready to jump.

When God is ready for you to go, you need to go. And when you say yes, don’t think for a moment that things will slow down. Actually, they’ll get faster and crazier and more awesome than you imagine.

God has planned the direction of your life, and it’s up to you to say yes to His will. Or do you think He forces you? No. God doesn’t force us to do anything, but He won’t always intervene when we end up stuck in the hole we dug for ourselves.

What is God telling you to do today? Is He telling you to wait? Is He telling you to jump? Whatever it is, just say yes. Do what He’s telling you to do. Stop fighting Him.

If He’s opened a door and made a way for you to do something, do it. Make sure it’s from Him–make sure it’s in line with Scripture and it won’t cause you to compromise on the truth of Scripture–and go for it with everything you have.

Opportunities in your path aren’t accidents. They’re strategic. God has created you unique. Whether you believe it or not, you have gifts and abilities that no one else has, and God wants you to be able to use those talents to reach other people with His love.

Don’t doubt the gifts God’s given you. Don’t take credit for them either, but don’t doubt them. Doubting them isn’t humility; it’s insecurity and fear. God has made you to do awesome things for Him.

Don’t doubt Him. Don’t doubt His plan. It’s okay to be afraid, but don’t let that fear keep you from saying yes to God.

The bathroom door in the entryway of Glen Eyrie Castle, Colorado Springs, CO

Don’t close the doors God opens

What do you do with an open door? Maybe the answer to that question is more revealing than we think, but usually my first inclination when I see an open door is to close it. In Kansas, an open door usually means two things: you don’t have allergies or you don’t care about your electricity bill.

But what about doors that should stay open? Am I wise enough to leave doors open when they should stay open? Because most of the time I’m going around closing doors, what if they’re the ones that I shouldn’t be closing?

The bathroom door in the entryway of Glen Eyrie Castle, Colorado Springs, CO

The bathroom door in the entryway of Glen Eyrie Castle, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are Galatians 5:13-14.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

One aspect of following Christ that I’m still trying to wrap my head around, even after all these years, is the freedom we have. God’s grace covers our sins, so we don’t have to live under the law thanks to what Jesus did for us.

But just because we’re free to do anything doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to do everything. Some things are harmful. And while doing those things won’t bring our salvation crashing down, it can stop our growth and get us in a lot of trouble. Just because you are a Christ-follower doesn’t make you immune to the consequences of bad choices.

But that’s not what really strikes me about this verse. Yes, it’s important to remember that God didn’t save us just so we could twist off and live a life that shames Him, but more than that, because of our salvation, we’ve been given an opportunity to serve.

How many times do we look at our new life in Christ as an opportunity to help other people? So many times I think we see our personal relationship with Jesus as an opportunity to save ourselves, and that’s true. We should want to save ourselves, but what’s your motivation for reaching safety for yourself first?

In a crashing plane, why do you put the oxygen mask on your face first? Because you’re worth saving? Or so you can effectively help the person sitting next to you?

The more I think about it, the more I realize that God opens many many doors in my life so that I can help others in His name. And I’m really sad to admit that in some of those instances, I’ve shut those doors, mainly out of fear of rejection or failure (fear doesn’t come from God, remember).

Yes, shutting doors to preserve and protect your electricity bill is a good idea, but don’t shut the doors God leaves open. Otherwise you’re missing an opportunity for a blessing–not only to receive a blessing but to be a blessing. Walking through a door God opens gives you the chance for God to bless you and for you to help someone else realize how much God loves them. Have you ever thought about it that way?

It’s important to accept Christ. That’s the first step, but it is just a first step in the process that is living for Christ. Choosing to follow Christ is a one-time decision that leads to lifetime of choices to either obey or disobey. Choosing one or the other won’t compromise your salvation, but only one will result in a satisfied, healthy life.

God didn’t save us so that we could sit back and live an easy life. Life with Jesus isn’t easy. Living as a part of this world isn’t easy. We don’t belong here, and the people of the world who don’t know Jesus don’t understand us. It’s our job as Christ-followers to be ambassadors for Him, to help the people who don’t know Him yet see that living life with Jesus is the greatest decision any person can make.

God opens doors for us to do just that in our lives every single day, but whether we take the opportunities He provides for us is up to us.

So what door has God opened in your life? What opportunity has He laid at your feet? You have the choice. The ball is in your court. Are you going to close the door because you’re afraid of what might be on the other side? Or are you courageous enough to trust God for your insufficiencies and walk through it?

A cow in the pasture at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Don’t wait for tomorrow

Procrastinators of the world, unite tomorrow! Have you heard that phrase? I saw it in a meme or something some time ago, and it made me laugh. I hate to admit this, but I’ve got a procrastinating streak in me. Not a wide one. But it’s there. And the busier I get and the more I have to accomplish, the stronger the urge to shove it all off and do something unrelated becomes. It’s not that I’m lazy; I think I just get to the point that I have so much to process, it’s easier to live in denial until the last minute.

But is that a wise way to live? No. I don’t even have to read the Bible to know that a lifestyle of procrastination isn’t healthy. It’s detrimental to your mental health and, in some instances, your physical health too.

But what does the Bible have to say about it?

A cow in the pasture at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

A cow in the pasture at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Ephesians 5:15-17.

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

What is the hallmark of a procrastinator? I said it above. Living in denial. A procrastinator can ignore the deadlines and responsibilities weighing them down and waste time on something completely unreleated. Why? Because they don’t want to think.

That’s what I do. When I have too much going on, I don’t want to think about it. Thinking about everything I have to do is overwhelming, and it’s easier not to face it. At least, it’s easier not to face it at the beginning. In the end, I’m wishing I’d started thinking about it sooner.

You guys realize that the times we’re living in truly are evil, don’t you? Maybe that sounds harsh, but what is the definition of evil? In the Bible, it’s everything that goes against God. There’s no distinction between “just bad” and “pure evil.” Evil is the absence of perfection.

We live in evil days. So when you get the chance to do something for God that might make a difference in the world, why do we hesitate? Why do we put it off?

I tend toward procrastination, especially when I’m busy or when I’m sure the issue isn’t important or that my interference won’t matter. But what do I know? I had the opportunity to interfere in a situation last week, and I decided not to. Why? Well, just being honest here, I didn’t want to mess with it. I have so many other things going on, I didn’t feel like investing the time on this one issue would be worth it.

I’m not going to go into details, but a situation that developed as a result of this issue blew up last week. Now, I’m still not convinced that I could have changed anything, but at least I would have the peace of mind knowing I had tried to help stop it. As it is, I have to live with the fact that I knew about a problem and didn’t do anything to prevent it. As it is, I’ll never know if I could have helped or not.

That’s the price of procrastination. You miss opportunities. You lose the chance to make a difference. Can you always make a difference? Of course not. But isn’t it better to try and fail than to spend the rest of your life wondering?

Whatever God is telling you to do, do it today. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Don’t wait until you feel ready. Just do it. Do it now because you’re not promised another day. You woke up breathing for a reason today; maybe this is your last chance to really do something great for God, whether it’s helping someone carry in groceries or just smiling at a stranger in the store. Maybe that doesn’t sound great to you, but the person you helped probably feels differently.

Put off procrastination. If you have the chance to do something good in these evil days, make the most of it. Seize the opportunity before you miss it. Either that or spend tomorrow wondering and regretting what might have been if you had.