In case you haven’t noticed, neon signs are making a comeback. They’re in hipster donut shops and edgy taco restaurants; sold in TJ Maxx and plastered all over Pinterest. If only the market could extend into everyday life.
You know, like, pointing out the big milestone decisions of life. They’d hang from the heavens and illuminate the job offers, relationships, investments, and commitments that are going to rock our world. Their buzz and glow would steer us through this maze called life, riveting our attention along the way, and point out the opportunities we just can’t pass up.
But life is not a taco joint. There are no neon signs in life.
When I wake up to that reality, I realize I need a better strategy to spot and seize opportunities in my life. And I don’t want just any opportunity. I want to know to pass up the flash-in-the-pan ones for the God-sized, eternally rewarding, and undoubtedly adventurous ones.
Ephesians 5:16-17 (NLT) says, “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
Okay, Paul. Easier said than done.
But this verse reveals two key things about God’s relationship with me: He definitely has provided me with a measure of opportunity, and He has a plan for my life. It’s also apparent that He gave us the capacity to bring those two keys together to walk out a life that pleases Him.
Now there is a historical account found in 1 Kings 18 about a prophet named Elijah spotting and seizing a God-sized opportunity. The land was in a season devastating drought until Elijah stepped on the scene with a heart full of faith and expectation. I believe we can all learn how to model our perspective after his audacious example.
Let’s look at verses 41-45a (ESV):
And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.
While this story has so much we could unpack, there are three highlights that can help us spot and seize our own God-sized opportunities:
- His expectation was not dictated by his circumstance.
Before there was a cloud on the horizon, before a single sign of rain, Elijah positioned himself to receive. He spoke with bold confidence in His provider, turned his anticipation into action, and humbled himself underneath the mighty power of God. We can practice this same stance by going to God in prayer, fixing our eyes on the ability and faithfulness of God over the dry situation we are in. Then, we position our heart to be expectant for God do work according to His will.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. –1 John 5:14-15 (ESV)
- He didn’t give up when it didn’t happen the first six times.
Elijah sent his servant out seven times! Imagine being that guy, walking out to the edge of the mountain, squinting as you scan the horizon, and having to bring back a report to your boss of nothing six times before seeing “a little cloud like a man’s hand“. But none of the discouraged Elijah! I imagine Elijah sunk himself a little deeper into his stance every time, concentrating on keeping an unswerving, trusting heart with each report. I imagine he was so expectant that God would move that each time he told his servant to go again, it was less like checking the mail for a million dollar check and more like checking the driveway for the friend who is on their way over. He wasn’t just waiting and believing for a specific occurrence, or a specific opportunity. He was readily anticipating his God to show up at any given moment, and despite the negative reports, he didn’t give up on that hope.
- He didn’t underestimate what he saw.
What if God-sized opportunities look more like tiny, fist-sized clouds than giant neon signs or full package deals? Well, they usually do. God enjoys doing the impossible, using a little to accomplish much, and raising people and situations from the ground up. God-sized opportunities speak more to their potential than their package. Elijah saw the potential of that tiny cloud, recognizing it was just the start of what God wanted to do, so he moved forward to the next thing. He didn’t diminish or brush off its size, he immediately recognized where God was moving and took action. If an open door before you requires you to exercise your faith to see the end result, and if that end result leads to God receiving glory and praise, then you can very well bank it’s from Him. He loves to use His people as vessels to show His power. Many times, that means taking an opportunity the size of a man’s hand and multiplying it far beyond our capacity, growing us in the process, to ultimately accomplish His purpose.
Are you experiencing a dry season in life, where opportunity seems not present or unattainable? Fix your eyes on God, remind yourself of the promises in His Word, and hang in there! He is a constant source of new beginnings and is known to make a way where there is no other way. Submit your plans or your expectations to Him, and align your heart with His will. That’s what prayer truly looks like. It’s the active pruning of what we want and grafting of His will into our desires, thoughts, and expectations. If we can begin to follow after Elijah’s example and anticipate God to provide us with opportunity according to his will, diligently and relentlessly look for it, and recognize where he is moving to get on board, we’ll experience God to the amazing first hand. No doubt, He has a plan for you! It’s full of blessing, refreshment, purpose, and provision. And just like that little cloud that swelled up from the sea, I believe breakthrough is on the horizon for you, too.
Bonus: While you’re in the waiting and seeking for your God-sized opportunity, give “There Is A Cloud” by Elevation Church a listen. It brings this story of Elijah to life and makes it a personal declaration of anticipation!