Small opportunities

Joining 5 minute Friday when we write for five minutes, link up over at The Gypsy Mama and have fun reading each other’s posts.

This week the topic is opportunity, Go:

This is the word I have chosen as my focus for 2012: opportunity. So many years have drifted past in which there were plenty of opportunities that I’ve not used, so this year I want to catch at least some of those that come my way. To harness my life to the opportunities before me and make something worthwhile of what I’m given.

Yet in the nitty gritty tiredness of life grasping hold of of big opportunities seems too hard some days. Still, there are smaller opportunities which I can take.

Such as reading that Bible story to the kids before bed.

Making a cup of tea for my lovely wife who is every bit as tired as I am.

The moments it takes to pray for my children before they go to sleep.

And then, finally, the opportunity to relax!
Stop

Throw a bucket of cold water at me

Joining today in 5 minute Friday led by Lisa-Jo,  who posts a single word prompt. We write for 5 minutes without stopping to edit or fix up punctuation, then link with others who have written based on the same word.

Awake, he should not be.

I am looking at a wee boy who should not be – awake, that is. We drove 40 minutes to see some penguins and he fell asleep within ten minutes, fantastic! No bedtime struggle this eveining. No such luck, he woke up on the way home again.

I should be…

For years I have appeared to be awake from the outside, but in fact I’ve been fooling you all. Paul wrote Ephesians 5:14 to Christians, especially me. I have known the call of Christ to me, have ‘wanted’ to follow Him but always there has been what has appeared to be good reasons not to wholeheartedly commit myself into His hands. I have been like a zombie, walking around with my soul asleep.

I want to wake up. To breathe in the life of the Holy Spirit and to run and catch up with Jesus who called me to “come”. The time for sleeping is not now, I need to take care how I spend my time for the days are evil and the mission is urgent. Jesus has called me to do His will. His will is to feed His sheep, to find the lost and to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and lift up the broken hearted. Throw a bucket of cold water at me please! Stop

Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
(Ephesians 5:14-17 ESV)


Image of man with matchsticks holding eyes open: pappamaart (iStock)

Open

It seems that 5 minute Friday has morphed this week into a six-minute Saturday, but I’m still joining the gypsymama, with the word prompt for this week which is:

Open

When I first considered this word prompt I thought of an open door representing opportunity. Then there is the idea of being open towards others – something this blogging lark has helped me with personally because I have always been very introverted and closed but am learning that such closedness is in fact very damaging to me.

However, what really sticks in my mind regarding “open” is that now the Kingdom of God is open to me, because Jesus opened his arms to receive the nails on that cross and his heart was opened also, receiving a spear. As his side was pierced and the blood and water flowed, my salvation was purchased. His open wounds have opened my own heart to the call He issued: follow me. And so, stumblingly I close another year and perch ready to open a new one with a focus on the opportunities open before me.

Stop

Opportunities

Rickshaw driver in Madagascar

As I have learned more about displaced people and refugees, a common attribute of those who survive the terrible circumstances of their lives is that they make the most of even very small opportunities. This contrasts with my own life in which there are myriad of opportunities and I avail myself of very few of them.

No Choice

One way to describe poverty is a lack of choices. Poor people cannot choose what to eat or even when they will eat. They don’t get the choice of what to wear. There is no ability to choose where to live, what job to do, what school to send their children to – in poverty all these choices are torn away.

In poverty people simply exist, struggling daily to survive. If an opportunity presents itself they latch on to it and make all they can out of it because this is their only hope for a better future.

In a land of opportunity

My situation is very different, I have so many opportunities that I have to consider thoughtfully which will be the best ones to pursue. Unfortunately, when we have an abundance of anything we can become complacent. I have done this, especially in the past, but even now I am guilty of allowing opportunities to drift by out of inertia – I cannot be bothered moving out of my comfort zone.

As we near the end of one year and start thinking about what 2012 might bring, I already know it will carry opportunities. There will be chances to do things that will make a positive difference. Will I recognize them and make good use of such opportunities or will complacency cause me to lazily waste such gifts?

A focus for 2012

Something I did this year was to choose a focus for the year. In 2011 it was essentials, paying attention to what is essential and trimming away some of what is not necessary. For 2012 I am going to turn my focus onto opportunities and make an effort to use them well.

Still, there is a need for wisdom because not all opportunities are good to pursue:

If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.
(Hebrews 11:15–16 ESV)

The end goal is what counts:

… whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
(Galatians 6:7–10 ESV)

Fears

So far this post has been like a celebration of all the choices available to me, and it is, but with opportunity can also come fear. There are some obvious fears such as being worried about failing, making wrong choices, change, what others might think and closing doors on other options. But the anxiety which got me thinking about this topic initially is what if God is inviting me to step into an opportunity so huge that the very roots of who I am would be challenged?


Some of the opportunities God has given me:

735) Opportunity to give, even a little, to others.
736) Opportunity to learn music.
737) Opportunity to get fit.
738) Opportunity to grow my relationships with my children.
739) Opportunity to write.
740) Opportunity to grow my prayer life.
741) Opportunity to know the Bible better.
742) Opportunity to grow vegetables.
743) Opportunity to fix my house up a bit.
744) Opportunity to do my job better.
745) Opportunity to serve my church.
746) Opportunity to love my neighbour.
747) Opportunity to memorize parts of the Bible.
748) Opportunity to speak up for those who are suffering.

Photo of Rickshaw driver: Simone van den Berg