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I met with my director at school when I was studying Scripture, and he asks me if I could read German. I told him I could not. So he said, “You need to learn.” So I put hundreds of German vocabulary flashcards into stacks of 50, and I put rubber bands around them. Whenever I went somewhere I always grabbed a bundle and put it in my pocket. One day I had to get some food for supper. I found the shortest checkout line. There was a lady in front of me who had coupons, and one of them didn’t register. So we had to wait for the manager to come over who told her that it was expired. Then she went to pay with a credit card, and it didn’t work. So she tried a debit card, then a gift card. She finally decided to pay in cash. “I may as well use up my change,” she said. So she put everything in her pocketbook on the counter and started to dig into the bottom for the loose change. Meanwhile, I am standing behind her in the line. What was I doing? Was I upset that I got into the wrong checkout line—again. Nope. Did I gather all my belongings in frustration and go to another line like everyone else did that was behind me? No again. Did I become increasing impatient as time went on? No. I was standing there quite content. How was that possible? Because every thirty seconds I had to wait, I learned a new German word. That is what I call opportunity. I believe that there is an opportunity every moment in lives, even at times that are most disappointing. We just have to see it.
One time Jesus asks a man to follow him. This, of course, is an instance of great opportunity. The guy tells Jesus that he would love to follow him, but he has to check out some cows he just bought. He added that he just got married, and he should spend some time with his wife. Also, his father died, and he needed to go to the funeral. These are all good excuses, but here is what happened after rejected the offer. Jesus sees a crowd, takes a few loaves of bread and feeds five thousand families. The man could have been there. Then after that, the disciples get into a boat, and later they saw Jesus walking on the water. The guy missed out on that as well. Then Jesus takes the hands of a dead girl, lifts her up, and she comes back to life. He missed out on that. Then there was the Last Supper and he could have been at that event. Then Jesus appears to the disciples on the day of his resurrection. The man could have told people the wonderful stories of all the things he saw, and today there would have been churches named after him. The moral of the story is that God gives us opportunities, we just have to see them.
What is the most used key on the keyboard of your computer? For me, it is Delete. Take out this, take out that, and now I have space for this. That is how opportunity works. We have to give up something or sacrifice something so we can have something much better.
One day I went fishing with Dad. He was rigging up on the beach when I told him I was going to fish at the point. I had my waders on when I arrived at the point. The channel, where the fish would be, was at a distance, so I walked out until the water came up to the brim of my waders, chest high. I was still a distance from the channel so I needed a long cast. In fly fishing, the way you can a distance is arm extension. You have to lean into the cast throwing your arms as far as you can reach. Some lady looked out the window saw me casting in deep water and thought I was in distress with all that arm movement and called 911. The fire department pulls up with fire trucks and emergency vehicles. First responders run out to the beach, and they see my father so they ask him if he had seen a guy in the water drowning. He told them, “That’s my son. He is fishing. Leave him alone.” Of course, I was oblivious to all of this because I was catching fish. At a certain point when the fire department left, I turned to see why Dad was taking so long to come with me. He was still on the beach. I said, “Dad, what are you doing here? The fish are out at the point.” He said, “Did you see the fire trucks and the rescue unit that came to save your life.” I responded to him, “What are you talking about?” I was focused on fishing because I had the opportunity. We need to be like that. God gives us opportunities, and we need to sometimes put the drama behind us.
In John’s Gospel Jesus thanks his Father in prayer for sending him to us. Because of this, we have the opportunity to always be with God. Jesus says his prayer out loud so the disciples can hear the prayer. We get to hear Jesus’ prayer because we are the ones who can answer his prayer. Jesus gave us the opportunity to be one with God. We just have to see it.