One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him. -Luke 18:15
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” he said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too. -Luke 18:35-43
At the time of writing this, I am getting ready to speak at an event representing what the organization I lead does in regard to serving children around the world. Did you know that the majority of people who come to faith in Jesus do so between the ages of 4-14? And yet, the question remains, do we really make that age a key, core, specific, and strategic focus of our efforts, outreach and ministry? Or, like Jesus’ first disciples, do we consider children a “distraction” from “real ministry” to adults, and look at kids as an “inconvenience” instead of kingdom opportunity?
Around this same time, I was helping to try to connect someone in need of something, to the pastor of a large church that could help in that particular area, which in turn would also be a great opportunity for their church.
However, instead of that church seeing it as an opportunity, we were informed it would take months before an appointment could even be made to see the pastor. Months. Just to get an appointment! It would also take over a month for a discussion and decision to be made. This pastor and church were initially too “busy” with “important” work to be bothered by this perceived inconvenience. They couldn’t see the opportunity it was for them as a church, let alone in simply meeting a need within their community.
Before we are too quick to judge however, I am sure we could all point to similar situations in our own lives where we mistook an opportunity for an inconvenience.
Let me give three recent examples.
The first happened at a restaurant with my daughter. We were eating donuts when an older lonely looking gentleman sat down beside us. To be honest I was annoyed. However, after we left I felt really convicted and realized I probably missed an opportunity to be Jesus to this man. It was an opportunity lost because I perceived it as an interruption.
The second example turned out better than the first. I signed up for a little conference but as the day approached I really did not want to go and did not know why I had signed up. I was very close to cancelling but felt I should keep my commitment. That day, I met, and sat with a man who needed encouragement. He has now become a good friend and I am excited to see how God is going to continue to use that friendship not only in his life but mine. Both of us later in fact told each other that neither of us knew why we were at that conference…but after meeting each other we now know why!
Last example: recently, I was traveling for a couple of meetings. I was staying at a hotel (in the US), where before I went to bed, I killed a coach-roach in my room. Then, at 4:00am I was awakened to the fire alarms going off. However, there was no fire. It was just a malfunction that they couldn’t resolve until two hours later! By that time, it was useless to try to go back to sleep, so I left an hour earlier than I intended or thought I needed too.
What I didn’t realize however, is that there was a one hour time zone difference between where I was staying and where I was going! Had the fire-alarm not woke me up when it did, and had I not left an hour earlier, I would have missed that first important meeting! (Plus I got a discount on the hotel and saved our organization some money, which always feels good even if it means being a little uncomfortable!)
What I saw as a major inconvenience turned out to really be an opportunity!
These recent experiences have caused me to reflect on the Bible passages above and wonder how many other “opportunities” we mistake for inconveniences? In fact, I bet you can think back on situations in your life where you later realized that to be true.
Jesus saw in advance what many of us fail to see until afterwards. He saw not just the present reality of children, but their future potential. He saw not just a blind beggar unworthy of his time, but a man created in the image of God who could become a testimony of the power of God that would result in praise being given to God.
In the role that I am in now, I often feel like an inconvenience to people and their busy lives as I try to arrange meetings to share about ServeNow. Many may in fact feel like I am approaching them simply “begging for money” or as “useless” to their agenda; as a child may seem to an important person or inconvenience to “real” ministry.
But what if the things we perceive as inconveniences are really God’s intervention in our lives and great kingdom opportunities?
What if needs that seem to annoyingly “shout” after us are really miracles waiting to unfold if we will only “stop” like Jesus did and personally take time to tend to that need?
What if that child becomes the next Billy Graham because of a prayer we pray over them or time we take to pour into their lives and bless them?
What if that person going on a mission trip, or ministry presenting an opportunity to get involved or give, is God’s way of allowing you to be a part of something special through which your resources can make an eternal difference?
What if the biggest perceived inconveniences and interruptions in your life are really Divine opportunities?
Maybe we should ask God to help us better see things from his point of view…it may just result in fulfilling his calling on our lives and seeing others lives changed!