“The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized in the lifetime of the opportunity.”
I can’t remember where I first saw or heard this quote, but it made me look at a few things quite differently.
Time is my “love language”. So I tend to take it personally, and badly, when someone “steals” my time. On the other hand, when a random stranger, who has nothing better to do, spends a few minutes to chat with me, I read way too much into it.
Since I was eighteen, I’ve always valued my time in monetary terms, too. At my first job, I didn’t just learn about time management, I had to write down what I did every 15 minutes and charge that time out to a client. At the end of the week, I had to submit those time records to my boss and he would record my productivity. When you do this for months on end, valuing your time becomes a habit.
But this quote made me value my time a bit differently – not just by what I had done, but by what I could do. Not just the cost of my time, but the opportunity cost of my time.
I recently offered an opportunity to everyone I knew. Most didn’t take advantage of it at all. And some took advantage of it at the start. Some took a little longer to sign up but then stumbled somewhere before the finishing line. Not one single person seized the full opportunity within the lifetime of the opportunity (it ended today). If only they knew what they missed out on (it would be kind of cruel to tell them, now).
It made me think about the Promised Land opportunity. I watched the recent movie Exodus: Gods and Kings, on a big screen with 3D and surround sound – it was spectacular! It made the brutal conditions of slavery and the plague and the harshness of racism towards the Jews so horrifically real.
So the opportunity of their own land, a land flowing with milk and honey, was an excellent opportunity. It was not just a good opportunity – it was a God-ordained opportunity. And God provided direction, protection, food and leadership to help them seize this amazing opportunity. And yet, out of the millions it was available to, only two (yes, 2) of them actually managed to seize that opportunity in their lifetime. Most squandered the rest of their lives complaining, criticising and literally walking around in circles.
Which made me realise, you not only have to seize the opportunity within the lifetime of the opportunity, but also within your own lifetime!
Every opportunity, like every life on earth, has an expiration date.
Every person and organisation can either choose to possess the promised opportunities, or they can squander their God opportunities.
One of the things that I’ve discovered is that opportunities often co-locate with integrity. Those who follow through on commitments, find opportunities. The promised land is accessed by those who keep their promises. If you’ve agreed to meet with someone, or do something, but it’s now a bit inconvenient, breaking your word and cancelling your commitment might relieve some of the time pressure you are feeling – but it could also mean disqualifying yourself from your God-ordained opportunities.
The good news is, keeping your commitments could mean you find the resources you need to seize your opportunities. I find most people who cancel the commitments don’t think at all about what it is costing the other person to keep. When Jesus had said He was going to the other side of the lake, but there was no boat to carry Him, He didn’t text them a couple of hours before and say he couldn’t make it. He knew that people would be making enormous sacrifices to meet with Him. So, He walked on water. He. Walked. On. Water. Sometimes miracles hide inside of the determination to keep your commitments. Sometimes, like Philip discovered, you’ll find the agility to move at the speed of God.
In 2008, Steven Furtick wrote on his blog:
A lot of people I know are more fearful of making a wrong move than making no move at all. Not me. I’ve been alive long enough to know that if I just sit at the intersection after God has given a green light, He’ll only honk a few times before He passes me by in the other lane. Doesn’t mean He’ll stop loving me or stop using me. It just means that that opportunity is gone. Forever.
If you are currently considering an great, godly, risky opportunity, consider this:
The cost of missing out can be greater than the cost of messing up.
Even if we mess up, let’s not miss out. Let’s make 2015 the year we seize our opportunities!