This was how many of our conversations began. Over time I learned to laugh and beat him to the punch. “So, what opportunity do you have for me today?” Walt was one of those happy, easy going guys who had the gift to see the positive in every situation. Even the worst of times was an “opportunity” for someone to learn something new, to grow, to rise above expectations and do great things. The truth. Walt knew every “opportunity” was a moment for us to remain faithful, do our best, and then watch as God showed up to redeem and transform a difficult situation.
I was a young man when I worked with Walt and Carol. I learned a lot. Above all I learned that even the most difficult of situations is “an opportunity” to see God at work.
I thought of Mr. Opportunity this morning when I read my devotional. I want to share it with you here. It comes from Sarah Young’s “Jesus Calling.
Every time something thwarts your plans or desires, use that as a reminder to communicate with Me. This practice has several benefits. The first is obvious: Talking with Me blesses you and strengthens our relationship. Another benefit is that disappointments, instead of dragging you down, are transformed into opportunities for good. This transformation removes the sting from difficult circumstances, making it possible to be joyful in the midst of adversity.
Begin by practicing this discipline in all the little disappointments of daily life. It is often these minor setbacks that draw you away from My Presence. When you reframe setbacks as opportunities, you find that you gain much more than you have lost. It is only after much training that you can accept major losses in this positive way. But it is possible to attain the perspective of the apostle Paul, who wrote: Compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, I consider everything I once treasured to be as insignificant as rubbish.
I spent much of the morning thinking about my journey these past six months. Nancy and I have moved from devastating diagnosis to learning to see the opportunity in the midst of a difficult situation. We have witnessed first hand the reality of disappointments being transformed into opportunities for good. It is possible to be joyful in the midst of adversity.
If I was granted the opportunity to make it all go away, to wake up from this horrible dream, I would take it. The cloud hanging over my life is not a pleasant one. Weekly trips to the oncologist, chemotherapy, scans, lab and such are getting old. Yet in the midst of it all there are opportunities to gain much more than I have lost.
Just the other day I asked Nancy if my personality had changed. I knew the answer. I just wanted to see if it was obvious to those closest to me. She confirmed what I felt to be truth. I am a gentler, calmer, more peaceful person than I was before. The “type A” push and drive to get things done and succeed has been tempered with a dose of reality about the shortness of life. All of a sudden when I look at life I can see clearly what is truly important. Lunch with Nancy has become more of a daily reality. We slow down, stop for a few minutes and share time away from the office. It sounds simple, but it is significant. In the past there was too much to do, so much to accomplish
My calendar is less full. In part because I am not able to push and move at the pace I once called normal. This reality provides me moments to be still and listen for God’s leading and directing. This has always been an important part of who I am but Cancer has provided me an “opportunity” to do it even more.
I laugh more. Each moment has a special quality to it. Confession, there were times in life I was so focused on what would be that I missed what was. Looking to the future and planning on how to make things become reality often robs us of the chance to be with people in the moment. I find I am in the present much more than I was before. Not only am I in the present…I find it enjoyable and life affirming. I am still planning, preparing and working to move into the future well but it is tempered with an ability to be a peace with what is.
There are other changes. Some are subtle, others I see very clearly. Cancer was definitely a “setback”, it was also an “opportunity”. I pray God continues to give me the strength to see the opportunities for myself and others as I travel this journey.
God is Good All the Time…All the Time God is Good