Quoting John Flavel my father once said, “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” I had just finished undergrad, was looking for a job, and my oldest brother had just passed away. At the time, I didn’t fully understand what my father meant, but as we all stand in the midst of a deranged political situation, the threat of civil and world war, and our own personal conflicts, I understand him completely. These are extreme times but God is an opportunist.
Genesis 28 tells of Jacob who, after wrongfully receiving his brother’s inheritance, is sent away from Beersheba to Haran. Jacob was a man on the run (like many of us). Tired of running, Jacob decided to get some rest. As he slept, God presented him with a dream in which there was a ladder set up on the earth. Its top reached to heaven, and angels of God were ascending and descending. God stood at the top of the ladder, and He said, I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you (ESV). Keep in mind Jacob had deceived his father, stolen from his brother, and was on the run. He was in an extreme situation! But God is an opportunist. He can use any situation in our lives that we offer to Him as an opportunity to bless us, and so he did with Jacob.
God promised him a possession. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Often, we equate possessions with material things and though there is nothing wrong with having financial blessings, God has given us far more valuable possessions such as our souls, our lives, our gifts, love, family, etc. When God blesses you, are you being a good steward of what God has given you? How can you ask for more if you don’t use what you already have to glorify God? Notice also that Gods tells Jacob, Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. The blessing was not given for Jacob alone, but rather that through him God’s blessing would be available to all. LEGACY. How will you bless your children so that they can bless the world?
God promised him protection. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go. I have had experiences in my life that cause me to believe this promise in the very depth of my being. Times when I have narrowly missed a collision, flown off the freeway and into a tree without a scratch, left a party two minutes before gunshots rang out. That funny feeling you get when something just ain’t right? God. I am not telling you that you will not walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I’m not telling you that God is going to protect you from every person you decide is your enemy. But He will protect you from the ultimate enemy because if you are a TRUE FRIEND to Him, then an enemy of you is an enemy of God.
God promised His abiding Presence. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. Have you ever truly thought about the magnitude of this promise? Though God is a Spirit, at various times He chose to manifest himself in physical ways. God was said to abide in the heart of the temple and whenever He revealed himself it was an occasion of Splendor. You are the temple of God. 1 Corinthians 3: 16 teaches, Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? To abide is to dwell or remain. Therefore, God dwells within you. God is not a visitor. God didn’t stop by to use your bathroom. God lives in you. You are strong. Despite how weak you may feel at times, victory and valor will always be yours because God abides in you. You are safe. In the thicket of life’s emergencies and difficulties, you remain unscathed because God abides in you. You are joyful even with the many circumstances and griefs we bear because God abides in you. Stop selling yourself short because God abides in you.
So if you’re feeling like a man on the run, if you’re burdened by these extreme situations in your life, fear not. God is an opportunist. To Him, you are Shadrach in the fire; Daniel in the lion’s den; Stephen standing before the gates of God; John on the Isle of Patmos. You are Jacob. God made some promises to you and He cannot fail. –Sean Johnson