Let’s see; thinking of things that go great together – ham and eggs, peanut butter and jelly, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Tom and Jerry, a crisps, cool morning and a warm cup of coffee, bacon and, well more bacon!
OK, so that’s a bit silly, but there are some things in life that simply always go together. It is understanding the power of these pairings that help us see deeper into our own lives and to discern the very presence of God in the events of our lives. I can’t tell you how many times, when I’ve been struggling with the noise of life, how wonderful it has been to get in a quiet place and listen for that still, small voice to remind me of that which is most important in life.
It is in noticing these apparent paradoxes that invite me into the trans-rational (notice, I did not say irrational) mystery of knowing God.
In today’s Epistle Lesson (1 Corinthians 16:4-12) St. Paul is wrapping up his first letter to the Church at Corinth and he is telling them he is looking forward to visiting them soon. But his trip to Corinth will have to wait because he is planning to stay in Ephesos (sic) until at least Pentecost because “a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” (1 Corinthians 16:9).
It is amazing in my own life how many times I have found this pairing to be true – Great Opportunity AND Great Opposition. They seem to go together like peas and carrots. In fact, I will go so far to say that great opportunity always stirs great opposition precisely because of the dangers to the enemy of our success!
What throws so many people off though is they are often surprised by the opposition to what they see as a great opportunity. And that is exactly what the enemy wants. If the opposition surprises you, it also may just discourage you and you’ll give up.
So why does great opportunity stir great opposition?
First, Opportunity reveals a poverty of vision. There is nothing like a dreamer and one who see what could be to scare the living daylights out of those who have become comfortable with mediocrity. And folks comfortable with the status quo rarely enjoy having their world disrupted by prophets. That’s why prophets usually get in trouble!
Second, Opportunity requires action. The truth is perpetual potential is just another way of saying “failure.” The Apostle called his opportunity ” a wide door for effective WORK…” (emphasis mine) and I don’t know anything that scares those comfortable with “the way things are” more than work! Effort requires vision to strengthen you for the task at hand. If you can’t see beyond the nose on your face, you’ll never stay motivated for the work that carries the Faith to the next generation.
Finally, Opportunity rejects fear. If you are given the gift of seeing what could be, the very glory of that insight banishes the natural fear of failure. If the vision is grand enough, if the vision of what could be is cosmic enough, if it is glorious enough, then it is powerful enough to overcome all those voices that will constantly scream in fear “It can’t be done” It’s a waste of time” or worse “We’ve never done it that way before!”
St. Paul needed to stay in Ephesos BECAUSE of the great opportunity AND the great opposition. In fact, he was able to recognize the opportunity because of his opponents.
Today, know that nothing worth doing is going to be easy. Banish from your mind the temptation to be surprised by contrary voices when you attempt to do great things. Mediocrity always makes excuses for itself. Push through those opposing voices and keep your eye on the great opportunity.
Today, “lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35) Opportunity abounds AND opposition is strong. Situation NORMAL! Believe anyway. Work anyway. Pray anyway, and let the Lord of the Harvest send you into the “field” of your world and reap the “harvest” that lasts forever!