Opportunities are Spreading as Fast as the Virus – Don’t Miss Them!
“Every crisis has both its dangers and its opportunities. Each can spell either salvation or doom.”Martin Luther King Jr.
It’s rather stunning to look at my calendar for March and April. Two weeks ago, it was a multicolored mosaic of travel commitments, speaking engagements, meetings and training sessions. At one point I wondered how I would complete it all. Now I am looking at three to four weeks of blank spaces. After several days of canceling airline flights, rental cars and hotels, and substituting in person meetings with zoom calls, I am assessing the aftermath. Two things immediately come to mind: 1) everything that was scheduled will eventually get done and 2) I now have days, even weeks of unscheduled time to invest however I want. I’m guessing many of you are looking at a similar type of schedule. There’s still a lot of work to get done and it’s going to look very different in the days and weeks ahead.
There is more to this testing time in which we live. I am struck not only with the capriciousness that marks this unpredictable moment in history, but also in the amazing number of new opportunities that are unfolding before us. The question is, will we recognize them, and will our focus be so intent on others and not on ourselves that we can take the fullest advantage of them?
This brief blog is meant to challenge you to look around and see ways in which God will work amazing good out of this desperate situation. Will you find His hand at work opening doors before you in surprising ways?
Here is my list of 12 opportunities that are unique to this unprecedented time. I challenge you to consider each, and then add your own to the list.
- There are people in your life for whom you have prayed for the opportunity to share the Gospel. If no door has ever been opened before, consider that this might be a moment to speak into their fear the Good News of the coming of the Prince of Peace. How many people might come to faith in Christ through just such a crisis as this?
- Has your prayer life become stagnant? Is there a greater opportunity to reinvigorate your time with the Lord than now? Is there a more important moment in recent history to reconnect with God through fervent prayer for our world? Might we all emerge from this crisis as greater prayer warriors?
- Have you had a hard time finding the time in your busy schedule for a deep, meaningful quiet time with the Lord? Has it been hard to set aside the moments for Bible study, meditation and reflection? How might you steward the extra time that has been freed up over the next few weeks to re-establish habits that will feed your soul and deepen your intimacy with Christ?
- How many of us have borne the guilt of not spending enough time with our families? Have the challenges of our busy schedules, work and church obligations, robbed us of rich time around a dinner table really talking as a family? If we are thrown together and sequestered from the world through the onslaught of this virus, might we emerge from it having re-established family time as a high priority?
- When was the last time you sat and had a long, quiet, intimate heart-to-heart with your spouse without the pressures of daily life? If our involuntary isolation from the rest of the world frees up time for husbands and wives to spend more time together, might we come out of this crisis with stronger marriages?
- Have we ever looked at a neighbor in need and thought, “the church should take care of them.” Well, churches are closing across the country, so it’s time for us to be the church! What needs around you must you now serve directly in the name of Jesus and on behalf of the body of Christ around the world?
- Even in our most limited trips beyond the doors of our house into the larger world, we will encounter people struggling with fear and depression. The book of proverbs reminds us that “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (25:11) We have the opportunity to speak that word every day. Will we see it? Will we speak it?
- What might we learn from going three or four weeks without a trip to the mall, the shopping center or our favorite retail stores? Will our lives be damaged by buying less and consuming less? Or might we emerge from this economic slow-down having discovered the freedom and joy of a simpler lifestyle? What if we actually buy less, consume less and find out that we got along just fine, perhaps even better?
- As a culture, we have come to expect that we can control most everything around us. Might we as a nation emerge from this crisis a humbler and less pretentious nation, recognizing that for all of our economic might and technological prowess, we are not ultimately in control? Might humility and repentance be the first steps to spiritual revival?
- We can go throughout our life ignoring those around us who live every day with a low immune system and a high susceptibility to infectious diseases. Have we ever prayed for them, or considered the fear they live with day by day? Now that we have shared that fear with them, perhaps we will emerge more compassionate and sympathetic to those around us for whom the passing of this crisis does not fundamentally change their own ongoing physical challenges.
- How many of the ordinary conveniences and blessings have we taken for granted over the years? Simple things like going to the grocery store whenever we wanted and finding everything we needed; getting on an airplane and traveling anywhere we want without fear; watching sporting events and other forms of entertainment whenever we want; gathering in our churches, going to restaurants, getting our hair cut, and going through the normal paces of life? Might we emerge from this crisis acknowledging that all of these freedoms and opportunities are truly blessings and gifts? Might we be people of a newfound gratitude and thanks and praise, no longer taking for granted what we have in such abundance?
- Might the enforcement of a social distancing rekindle in us our deep need for community? Might we emerge from this crisis with a deeper hunger and thirst to live and work in community, understanding that we were created in the image of a triune God and that being present with our neighbor is one of the greatest gifts ever given?
These are my twelve, what would you add to the list?
Most importantly, will you take advantage of these and other opportunities, that in doing so God might work His good pleasure in you and through you in the midst of, in spite of, and in the face of the darkness we are encountering in these days? Might we live out the powerful words of Joseph when he declared to his brothers regarding their treachery, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20)
How will you steward the opportunities that will be all around you in the coming weeks?