Jump Start # 2178
John 4:34-35 “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.”
In these marvelous words of Jesus, there is a obvious difference in calculations. The disciples were thinking that there were four more months until the harvest. For the farmer, the harvest season is a busy time. One must work hard and get the crops in as weather permits. Before the harvest, there is the time of preparation but the demands are not so intense. Opportunity was coming, but it wasn’t now. That’s how the disciples saw things. We have four months until harvest.
Jesus saw things differently. Now is the harvest. His proof was open your eyes. Look on the fields. They are white for harvest. In agriculture, a farmer couldn’t delay a harvest for four months. If the crops were ready now, in four months the opportunity would be lost. Another four months and the crops would rot. The opportunity doesn’t fit the farmer’s time table. The famer has to be ready when the crops are ready.
This wonderful lesson reminds of the value of opportunity. The Galatians were told, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially those of the household of faith.” Opportunities.
Here are four lessons about opportunities.
First, Some opportunities when they are missed are gone forever. Think about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip reached him while he was reading Isaiah in his chariot. Had Philip delayed, he may not have found the eunuch. Opportunities do not wait until our schedules clear, the weekend, or we have a day off. They come at work. They come at school. They are there as we shop. They are there as we take a walk in the neighborhood. Chance meetings. A certain question is asked. A specific situation arises. A week later, the person may not be asking that question. A week later they may have moved on to something else.
We can’t go back to high school, it’s too late. Those opportunities are gone. For many of us, we kept silent and still instead of let our lights shine. We were too shy, too afraid, too uncomfortable about letting others know that we were Christians. Moments passed. We’ve moved on. Most connections are no longer there.
Second, some opportunities are disguised as great challenges. There is a lot of effort involved. There is going to be a lot of time involved. Complicated situations. Messy lives. Complex questions. No easy solutions. No fast lanes here. No simple answers. Many Bible studies are like this. A person comes with so many ideas that must be worked through. Many are not Biblical. Many are false. This will take time. Sometimes we might pass on some opportunities simply because of the challenges. A person is dealing with addictive behaviors. That’s going to take time. A person has anger issues. That’s going to take time. A person has relationship issues. That will take time. A person has emotional issues. That will take time. Our fast paced times often won’t work on some opportunities. It may take months and months of working with a person to get him untangled from all his issues and to have a heart that is open to Jesus. We may pass on some opportunities simply because they are so involved.
Third, some opportunities bear immediate fruit. We see results quickly. That’s a great feeling. That makes you think that your time was well spent. It was this way for Philip. One conversation with the eunuch and there was water and the eunuch was wanting to be baptized. How easy that was. How quick that was. Some opportunities are like that.
But then there are other opportunities that we may never see the good that was done. It may happen, but not before our eyes. Sometimes, years later, a person will reach back to their past and remember what a parent or even a grandparent taught them. They see stability in the lives of their parents and grandparents. They saw that their grandparents were simple people. They didn’t have much, but they were happy and content. They were good people. They were God’s people. Worship was a large part of their lives and God was the center piece of their lives. Now, years later, after chasing many carrots and crashing here and there throughout life, they look back are realize that those simple people had what we were looking for all along. One Sunday, a family shows up at the church house. They feel awkward and unsure of what to do or where to go. But they come looking. They come hoping that finally they will find an anchor for their souls and in this somewhere, happiness and contentment, just like their grandparents had, can be found. For some, you may never see the good that you do. The reformer, Martin Luther was asked, “If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?” His reply, “Plant a tree.” Plant a tree that will grow and help others later on. Plant a tree that will do good long after you are gone. You may never enjoy the shade of the tree, but others will.
Finally, opportunities come in many shapes and flavors.
There are opportunities to do good. Spread some sunshine around. Send a card. Give someone a call. Send an email. Just let someone know that you were thinking of them and you thanked the Lord for them. Help someone out. There are so many ways this can be done. It doesn’t have to be expensive. The good that comes from an hour conversation, is hard to measure. Help someone load a truck. Help a mom with her kids as she leaves the church building. Help pick up around the house, the church building, the neighborhood. Lift up your eyes and see. All around you can do good. Use your imagination. Use your talents. One of our former elders has been a bit sickly recently. He was a school principal years ago. The various children’s Bible classes all drew some pictures and made some cards. Those were mailed to him. What a joy it brought his heart to see what all the children had done for him. Simple things can do so much good.
There are opportunities to let your light shine. We live in a dark world. People too often chose the wrong words, the wrong attitudes, and the wrong choices in life. You spread some light by making the right choices, having the right attitudes and using the right words. Smile more. Thank more. Help out more. Being different in a positive way is something that is rare these days. Stick around and help someone out. Be kind. Be a listener. A gentle answer turns away wrath, Proverbs tells us. You can change the tone of a meeting by your words and your attitude. You can lift weary spirits by encouragement. You can, by your influence, show people what grace and forgiveness looks like. Everyone knows what getting even is all about. But to see forgiveness, kindness and appreciation, without expecting anything in return, that’s unusual. That’s light shining.
There are opportunities to teach. Sharing the Gospel doesn’t have to be a formal Bible study, with the books opened. In everyday conversation, things come up. Questions are asked. Opinions are shared. Listen. Teach. Pull God into the conversations. It’s not a comparison of my church verses your church, but rather, what does the Bible say. People often do not know. Some do not care. Some don’t want to know. But there you are, defending, expressing, and teaching as you can. And, you’ll be surprised who listens. And, you’ll be amazed when someone comes up to you in private wanting to know more. Opportunities around the family. Opportunities at work. Opportunities with friends.
Lift up your eyes, Jesus said. Look around. The fields are ready for harvest. Opportunities abound. You’ll find them today, if you are looking.