She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden. First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. [Proverbs 31:16-17 (MSG)]
The Proverbs 31 woman (or man) has what our Florida pastor calls “opportunity awareness.” Where others may see an unplowed field, he or she sees a vineyard. Their vision is not just of what exists now; it is of what can exist in the future. A perfect example of “opportunity awareness” was demonstrated recently by a child who sold a lizard trap to our pastor after church. This little boy gathered up plastic containers from that Sunday’s treats and cut small holes in their lids. To catch a lizard, one just had to put a little food in the box and a lizard would climb in and be trapped. He even had two lizards in another container to demonstrate his product! This little boy didn’t see a plastic carton destined for the recycling bin—he saw a way to capture lizards (and to earn some money).
God presents us with opportunities all of the time; we just have to open our eyes to the possibilities. Spencer Smith worked for 3M and was trying to create a super-strong adhesive when he discovered a somewhat useless un-sticky glue. A solution without a problem, it was nearly five years before one of his colleagues saw its possibilities. A choir member, he tired of losing the paper bookmarks in his hymn book. He tried coating his paper markers with Smith’s glue and Post-it Notes were the result. George de Mestral took a look at the burrs that got caught in his dog’s coat when hiking. Instead of seeing an annoyance, he saw the possibility of making a fabric fastener that would mimic the burrs’ microscopic hooks. His idea was met with resistance and laughter but, since his vision resulted in Velcro, I imagine he was the one who ended up laughing. Caleb and Joshua saw a land with promise but the other scouts saw only giants. When the Apostle Paul sat in a Roman prison, he didn’t see barred doors; he saw an opportunity to write to the early church and to witness to the jailed and their guards. Surrounded by a crowd after he and John healed a crippled man, Peter saw a congregation to whom he could preach.
So what do these inventors, an eleven-year old budding entrepreneur, Israelite scouts, and early Christian evangelists have to do with us? The French scientist, Louis Pasteur said, “In the field of observation, chance only favours the prepared mind.” These people saw more than what was right in front of them—they saw possibility and potential and, more important, they were prepared to do something about it. God continually presents us with fields that seem barren, boxes that look empty, things that don’t work the way we anticipated, burr-like annoyances, unbeatable foes, locked doors, and people with questions. Yet, in all of these circumstances, God provides us with opportunities to serve and witness for Him with our lives and words. Every situation (both good and bad) comes with an opportunity to be Jesus to someone. But, as Pasteur pointed out, we need to be prepared, both to see and to do.
Remember as you go about your day that you may be the only Jesus some of your friends, neighbors, and family will ever see. [Wanda Brunstetter]
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. [Thomas Edison]