“How much I missed, simply because I was afraid of missing it.” (Paulo Coelho)
Opportunity is a favourable situation or set of circumstances that make it possible to do something. There are those who can spot opportunities everywhere, and those who are oblivious to them. There are those who capitalise on any opportunity, and those who are too cautious to embrace it.
The writer of Ecclesiastes gave the following advice.
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
Opportunity – whatever your hand finds to do
When Paul the apostle visited Athens (Acts 17) he was there to wait for Silas and Timothy so that they could continue on with their journey. But while there he took the opportunity to engage with the Jews in the synagogue, anyone who happened to be in the market-place, Epicurean and Stoic philosophers that he happened to come across, those who gathered at the Areopagus, and a few individuals who believed his message and joined him. That is a lot of opportunity to come from waiting at a transport hub. There is no shortage of opportunity if we will look around and see what can be done.
Action – do it
Spotting opportunities is only the first step. When Paul saw the opportunities in Athens, he took action to seize those opportunities. He intentionally stepped into the synagogue on the Sabbath and took the opportunity to speak to the Jews. He deliberately walked around the market-place and started conversations. He accepted the invitation to visit a religious site filled with idols. He stood among the philosophers and preached. He welcomed and accommodated the new believers who joined him. If opportunities are not to be squandered, they must be taken and acted upon.
Enthusiasm – with your might
How we do things is as important as what we do. Opportunities will never be maximised if we lack an enthusiastic attitude. It is difficult to fault Paul’s zeal while he was in Athens. His presentation style was enough to engage devout Jews in the synagogue, intrigue strangers in the market-place, captivate scholars and philosophers at the Areopagus, and persuade some significant individuals of the claims of the gospel. Paul had a message worth being enthusiastic about, and he delivered it with conviction. If the gospel is the greatest story ever told, it deserves to be delivered with some fervour. “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)
“An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” (Winston Churchill) Every day provides countless opportunities. Spot them, seize them, and see what happens.