Life is about making choices.
This outfit or that one, this restaurant or that one, this movie or that one. Those are the small ones. There are certainly bigger ones:
This job or that one. This city or that one. This investment or that one. Bigger choices, but still choices. And if you’re a “glass if half full” kind of person, each one of these choices – especially the big ones – represents not just a decision, but an opportunity. These are opportunities for advancement. Opportunities for responsibility. Opportunities for influence. Now every once in a while, one of these opportunities comes along that is big enough, and potentially life-changing enough, that it becomes a very serious matter of desire.
We want this opportunity. We want it to the extent that it becomes, at least for a season, the constant backdrop of every conversation, every reflection, and every prayer. Make no mistake – this might be a really great opportunity, not just for us personally, but also for the kingdom. If we were to be given that opportunity, it might mean an even greater, potentially much greater, opportunity to make a dent in the darkness for the sake of the gospel. So to say that we want such an opportunity is not something bad. This desire might very well be pure… at least mostly.
So there it is – the big thing. The big moment. All you need is to be given the chance. And that’s what you’re praying for, and you are praying earnestly.
Can I offer one principle to keep in mind when confronted with such opportunities that are so desirable, not just for you but even for the kingdom?
Remember this – God’s highest goal for you is not that opportunity. And frankly it doesn’t matter what “that opportunity” is – it still won’t be God’s highest goal for you. Read the words of Paul:
Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he richly poured out on us with all wisdom and understanding. He made known to us the mystery of his will,according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ as a plan for the right time—to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him (Eph. 1:3-10).
Here we see God’s highest goal for us – it is, and it always will be, that we are made holy. God’s will for us is that we are conformed into the image of Christ. It’s not that we have this job or that one, or live in that city or that one, or have this level of influence or that one. Those opportunities may come, and they may come to fruition, but all such opportunities exist under the umbrella of God’s overall goal of Christlikeness.
So why does that matter to us? What difference does it make when it comes to these opportunities? Many things I’m sure, but here is one at the top of my mind today: Remembering this truth gives us room to breathe when we find ourselves getting wrapped up in these opportunities. Because they are so significant and life-changing, they can become near obsessions. We might even find ourselves bargaining with God in order to try and get Him to move a few things around so everything will fall in the right place for us to receive this opportunity.
In such moments, we can step back and remember that while we don’t know what God is going to do with this specific opportunity, we can know with certainty what He is doing all the time in our lives. He is making us into the image of His Son, and if we receive such an opportunity, then we can know we have received it in order to make us like Jesus (among other things). And if we do not, we can trust that for some reason unknown to us, that having an opportunity would not further this goal. In fact, walking through the disappointment of being denied that opportunity might actually be the thing that moves us further along in our conformity with God’s Son.