A new day. A new week. A new month. A new year. A new decade! Every new moment in time is pregnant with new opportunities. It’s hard to remember that when you’re feeling a bit stuck. But it’s true. Many lives have been changed in a moment, or at least a series of moments strung together.
What kind of opportunities are you hoping for in 2020?
The Mirriam Webster Dictionary definition of opportunity is this.
op·por·tu·ni·ty | \ ˌä-pər-ˈtü-nə-tē
Definition of opportunity
1 : a favorable juncture of circumstances
the halt provided an opportunity for rest and refreshment
2 : a good chance for advancement or progress
There’s a multi-billion dollar industry trying to help us see and pursue life’s opportunities. People all around are trying to sell us books and classes to help us look better and achieve more. They encourage us to create a new and better life constantly.
Sometimes it feels like false hope. They say if we just believe enough and work enough, or spend enough, anything is possible. It’s not. For some, our health will get worse, not better, no matter how hard we try. For some, our jobs will go away, no matter how hard faithful we’ve been. Some of us will lose significant people who give our lives joy. What then? What can we hope for? What opportunities remain?
No matter your circumstances, you are standing at the beginning of 2020 with 5 guaranteed opportunities. And each of them has the potential to change your life.
- We’ll have the opportunity to know Christ better. (2 Peter 3:18)
I don’t mean we’ll have an opportunity to know more about Jesus. I mean we will know him. He will speak to us. He will invite us. He will encourage us. He will challenge us and at times, confront us. And He will be with us. His presence will be palpable.
Some people search for the spiritual all their lives. Sometimes on sleepless nights, I listen to a radio show, where people are looking to space, or the dead, or the stars to try and connect with the unknowable. When the Scriptures are filled with the promises that God is knowable. He’s the good shepherd and his sheep know his voice, the apostle John wrote.
Every day, we’re invited to come to him, take his yoke upon us and walk in rhythm with him. Can you hear the knocking of the hand that touched blind eyes and quieted the storms? If you can, that’s the opportunity being offered to get to know him better.
- We’ll have the opportunity to grow a deeper friendship with someone else. (John 17:22-23)
As we connect with the eternal through Jesus, we begin to see the immortal souls of the people around us. Every life has meaning. And much of that meaning is wrapped up in our connection with one another.
Just now, the counter person at McDonald’s stepped away from the counter to open the door for a woman in a wheelchair, entering the restaurant. He connected with her need. For a moment she knew she was not alone. She mattered and he mattered.
We will have the opportunity to notice and make room for others in our lives, not for what they can give us, but simply because they are loved by God.
- We’ll have the opportunity to help others see God’s kingdom. (Matthew 6:10)
God’s kingdom is a marvelous new reality that was announced by Jesus. Some call it an upside-down kingdom. It’s a kingdom where the world’s values get turned on their heads. The first are last and the last are first. The broken are healed. Abusive powers are brought down. Enemies and friends are loved. Redemption is possible. Forgiveness is free. People are valued. Creation is a witness.
These opportunities will come when we decide to act another way. When we decide to use the language of love. When we empower the weak. When we notice the oppressed. When we practice hospitality. When we live generously. It might happen in a small act or a grand gesture. It will happen.
- We’ll have the opportunity to learn wisdom. (James 1:5-8; Proverbs 3:13-18)
This opportunity rests on two things. One is truth. The other is experience. Learning wisdom calls us to live with listening ears and an open mind.
There will be many days when we’ll remember, or discover a truth that applies to a life experience in a way we’ve never thought of before. Or someone will give a word of advice, or correction that rings true.
In these opportunities, if our hearts are tender and our minds set toward understanding, we’ll be able to act with a new confidence and joy that we are doing a good thing.
- We’ll have the opportunity to know peace. (Philippians 4:6-9)
Every day we’ll be invited to know peace and peacefulness. Can you envision what that might be like? It would mean to awake with confidence that your life has meaning. Peace holds assurance that all is working out just as the Author of your life intended. And that he can be trusted with your story.
Peacefulness doesn’t mean we don’t try to improve and grow. It doesn’t mean we settle for the status quo. It means that we find contentment in the journey with all its ups and downs, challenges and celebrations, limitations and possibilities.
These 5 opportunities aren’t about achieving some impossible feat or arriving somewhere new. They offer the promise of meaning; meaning which is discovered as we live in growing intimacy with the God of all creation as our Redeemer and Friend.
These opportunities won’t likely show up when all is going well. They will whisper to you when you’re in the trenches of living life. They will arrive in a plain brown wrapper scuffed up and torn by pain and trials. They will present themselves in the middle of your doubts and fears. Just when you’re tempted to throw it in, you’ll hear the knock of the Holy Spirit.
Imagine what it might be like to be engage with the new year on this level. A growing closeness with the Son of God; growth in our connections with others; living the realities of an eternal kingdom; becoming mature in wisdom; and having a peace that no one can explain away – what would look different for you? What areas of your life would be impacted? What would others see? How would this change the way you see yourself?
We don’t need to conjure up these opportunities. We just need to step into them, with faith. Keep an eye open for my upcoming devotional #31daysofopportunity! I’m working on it now. Until then, I pray you get your hopes up for a changed life in 2020.