Summary: If you want to understand the Lord’s will, be wise by looking for the opportunities He sets before you, especially in difficult circumstances.
“Opportunities Right in Front of You” Luke 9:10-17
When NASA began the launch of astronauts into space, they found out that the pens wouldn’t work at zero gravity (Ink won’t flow down to the writing surface). In order to solve this problem, they hired Andersen Consulting. It took them one decade and $12 million. They developed a pen that worked at zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on practically any surface including crystal and a temperature range from below freezing to over 300 degrees C.
And what did the Russians do? The Russians used a pencil!
Too often we focus on problems and fail to see opportunities right in front of us.
Winston Churchill once said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; while an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Likewise the Lord tells us to be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Eph. 5:15-17
In other words, “If you want to understand the Lord’s will, be wise by looking for the opportunities He sets before you, especially in difficult circumstances.”
Now for many of us this is a mind shift. If you’re like me, I was raised to be self-reliant and to work hard. If a problem presents itself, the wheels in my head naturally start to spin and I immediately go into “fix it” mode: what do I need to do, who do I need to talk to and how do I go about fixing the problem.
Now more often than not, my problem is not with the problem, but with how I go about finding the solution. I have a natural tendency to exhaust all of my resources, all of my strength and all of my ideas before I come to the Lord for His response.
However, the Lord has been teaching me to think supernaturally, instead of naturally. He’s been teaching me to see things from His Kingdom’s perspective rather than my worldly perspective. He’s teaching me to see the opportunities He is placing before me. Perhaps He’s leading you along that learning curve as well. And why not, He did that with His disciples.
Our passage tells us that Jesus and His disciples withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but a crowd in excess of 5,000 learned about it and followed him. As it got late in the day, the disciples came to him with a problem: There are too many people to feed. But rather than seeing this as an opportunity for the Lord to work, they saw it as a problem they needed to fix. Notice their pessimism, Mark 6:37 says they said to him, “it would take eight months of a man’s wages (to feed all these people)! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?"
So they came up with a plan, let’s send them to the surrounding villages to find food and lodging v.12
Now folks, that’s a reasonable, logical, level-headed, natural approach to the problem. Identify it, assess it, weigh the options and act on it. It was a great plan! Except for the fact that they were not making the most of (the) opportunity (by first) understanding what the Lord’s will was. Eph. 5:15-17
They dove head-long into “fix-it” mode and not once asked the Lord who was standing right there, what His thoughts were about it.
So Jesus looked them right in the eye and said to them, Fella’s, "You give them something to eat." v.13
Now you can almost feel the tightening in their chest, that tingling sensation that creeps up your spine, grabs your neck and sends your brain into panic mode. “You want us to do what?”
Lord, you don’t understand we had a committee meeting and have identified the problem, assessed our resource pool and have already come up with a perfectly legitimate and natural solution to this problem.
However, the Lord wanted to teach them something. He wanted them to start thinking differently. He wanted them to get out of the “fix-it” mode and begin to think in an “opportunity” mode. He wanted them to change the way they think and the way they approached life with its joys and its dilemmas.
to be made new in the attitude of their minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Eph. 4:23-24
To not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. So that they would be able to test and approve what God’s will is. Romans 12:2
Jesus wanted His disciples to stop looking at problems from their natural perspective and start looking at solutions from His super-natural prospect.