Several months ago, we ran into some old friends at a wedding. We asked about their move to a new home, and the husband replied with a smile, “We used to have awesome neighbors. Now we have awesome opportunities.”
His comment has replayed itself over and over again in my mind as I’ve pondered how he chose to frame his situation. I thought about all he didn’t say. Didn’t say “our new neighbors are a problem.” Or “we can’t stand our new neighbors.” Or even a benign “we miss our old neighbors.” Nope. He put the best possible spin on an obviously disappointing position.
It made me think of these verses: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil,” (Ephesians 5:15-16, emphasis mine). So what on earth does it mean to “make the most of every opportunity?”
I love the way Strong’s Concordance describes it: “to make wise and sacred use of every opportunity for doing good.” I get “wise.” It means smart, thoughtful, intentional. Few of us aspire to be “unwise.” But what does it mean to treat every opportunity as “sacred?” Well, if something is sacred, that means it is dedicated and consecrated to a person, so in our case as Christians, that means God. So then this implies that we should look at Every. Single. Opportunity. as a chance to intentionally do or say or be something that honors the Lord. How do we reframe our own lives in light of this truth? To follow our friend’s example, it might mean the following:
“I used to have an awesome job” becomes “now I have awesome opportunities.”
“I used to have awesome health” becomes “now I have awesome opportunities.”
“I used to have an awesome marriage” becomes “now I have awesome opportunities.”
“I used to have an awesome savings account” becomes “now I have awesome opportunities.”
Awesome opportunities for what, you might ask? Opportunities to learn contentment, to increase your faith, to love as Jesus loved, to experience supernatural peace, and to grow closer to Jesus. Because the opportunities for opportunities are endless.
I don’t say any of this lightly or think it will be easy! On the contrary, I think I’ve wasted many awesome opportunities wishing for a return to the awesome past! For a bit of inspiration, we need only look at scripture to find practical examples of how this plays out in the life of Jesus and His disciples.
When Jesus called Peter and his cohorts to leave their fishing industry and follow Him? Awesome opportunity to learn to know Jesus.
When Jesus and the disciples had no food to feed the 5,000? Awesome opportunity to demonstrate God’s provision.
When Lazarus died before Jesus can reach him? Awesome opportunity to witness God’s miraculous power.
When the Pharisees bring the adulterous woman before Jesus? Awesome opportunity to experience His grace and forgiveness.
Folks, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’d be so bold as to suggest that nearly every moment of every day presents opportunities to take situations that appear to be a loss and approach them with holy wisdom and sacred reverence. We can reframe the thing so that redemption and restoration take center stage and steal the show instead of allowing the enemy to grab our attention with thoughts of discouragement and defeat.
Remember when WWJD bracelets were all the rage? I’ve thought about that acronym a lot the past few months, and I think it falls a little short on representing what being a Christian really looks like. It’s not just doing what Jesus did. It’s thinking about what Jesus thought, and feeling what Jesus felt, and seeing what Jesus sees, and understanding what Jesus understands. I’m convinced that when opportunities knock, we can truly jump from “awful” to “awesome” as we shift out of our earthly gear and into a heavenly one.