Seize the Opportunity

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Opportunity is a big word these days. During these tough times everybody seems to be looking for an “opportunity.”

The English word opportunity is derived from an interesting concept. Years ago, before modern harbors, a ship had to wait for the flood tide before it could make it to port. There is a Latin term called ob portu, which was used for this situation. It referred to a ship standing over against a port, waiting for the moment when it would ride the turn of the tide to the harbor.

This is a beautiful word picture. The captain and crew had to be ready and wait for that one moment. They knew that if they missed it they would have to wait for another tide to come in. It was important to seize the opportunity.

To seize the opportunity requires readiness. Many of us would like to have a great opportunity, but we are not prepared to ride the tide in when the opportunity occurs. Some people are always sitting out in the ocean, still waiting for the opportunity.

Somebody said that the reason many people don’t get anywhere in life is because when opportunity knocks, they are out in the backyard looking for four leaf clovers! We rely on luck rather than being ready to seize the opportunity.

Paul contrasts being wise or unwise when he writes to the people of Ephesus, “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.” (Ephesians 5:15, 16 NIV) A lack of making the most of every opportunity is described as being foolish. He reminds the people in Galatia that “while we have opportunity let us do good to all people.” (Galatians 6:10 NIV)

James raises an interesting concept about opportunity. He contends that opportunity can come out of difficult situations. In fact he says that we ought to be joyful when we encounter a lot of trials, because that opens the door for opportunities. (James 1:2-4)

A young man named Clarence one day carried his young lady friend on a summer outing and picnic lunch at a nearby lake. Despite the hot sun, Clarence was infatuated by her beauty and her smile. He had to row the boat and finally drag it over to the shore and helped her out of the boat. He prepared for the picnic. The young lady smiled and said, “Honey, you forgot the ice cream.”

Clarence was a bit muffed, but he got back in the boat and rowed across the lake. He found a grocery store, bought the ice cream and made his way back across the lake. He was hot and tired and was looking for some cool shade. The young lady looked at the ice cream and again flashed that beautiful smile and said, “Clarence you forgot the chocolate syrup.”

Clarence got back in the boat and rowed halfway across the lake and suddenly stopped. He began to think that there must be a better way. By the end of that afternoon he had put together the concept of an outboard motor! His name was Clarence Evinrude! He later married the girl.

Out of difficult situations, opportunity arises. Where is your life today? Are you sitting waiting for the opportunity? If you miss it, you will continue to sit.

Seize the opportunity!

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