A visitor was once shown by a sculptor over his studio. One piece particularly took his attention, that of a figure, veiled so that the features could scarcely be discerned, and with a wing on each foot.
“What does it represent?” asked the visitor.
“Opportunity.” was the sculptor’s reply.
“But why is his face hidden?” asked the visitor.
“Because men seldom know him when he comes to them.” was the reply.
“And why has he wings on his feet?” asked the visitor.
“Because he is soon gone, and once gone cannot be overtaken.” was the reply.
What a world of meaning is wrapped up in these replies! We older men can look back, sadly enough at times, on opportunities which we did not see were opportunities, or, if we did, we lacked the moral fibre, the spiritual energy, to avail ourselves of them. Too much sloth and lethargy marked us, and as the years have fled the opportunities have passed beyond recall.
Young brethren, young sisters, will you not take this as an encouragement and a warning? You are young, you are healthy, you are sound in mind and limb—these are very great assets. Best of all you are the Lord’s.
Just now the labour markets are over-crowded. Men, who would gladly work, cannot get it. Men, who dislike the necessity of receiving the dole, walk the streets, eating out their hearts. But there is no over-crowding of the Lord’s labour market. At home and abroad, at your very doors, or far away “in heathen darkness lying,” there are opportunities of service awaiting you.
What are you going to make of your life? A brother writing to me from Brazil speaks of the large number of young Britons who, for the sake of a livelihood, will face a tropical climate and the learning of a foreign language. He asks sadly, “Where are the Christian young men or women, who are willing to do this for the Lord’s sake?” What a boon they would be, self-supporting, yet able to work in a dark and needy place for the Lord. Qualified medical men or women, dentists, opticians, really good photographers, have particularly useful qualifications, which would support them easily in many a needy part of the world. Then there are accountants, clerks, and the like.
A missionary in my hearing electrified his audience recently when he spoke of the need of the work he was connected with in the heart of Africa. He spoke of the tiny handful of workers as contrasted with over one thousand young men and women employed by a huge English firm in that neighbourhood—young men and women ready to face the breaking of home links and the learning of a new language and the dangers of malarial fevers and worse, all for the sake of a livelihood.
We know one brother, not young and, consequently, with the mind less adaptive and receptive, and memory not at its best, who has with infinite patience acquired a foreign language in which he can proclaim the message of salvation in other lands. Well may we ponder over the following Scripture:—
“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few: Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:36-38).
We would shrink from attempting to send forth any labourer, but we can pray fervently that THE LORD may do it. If He does, He will send the right ones and support them in it, whether wholly dependent on the Lord for their maintenance, on the lines of the ordaining of the Lord that “they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14), or self-supporting by taking suitable employment. The latter makes the servant more local and restricted in his sphere; the former gives the opportunity for greater scope.
But whether we stay at home or go abroad, whether we are altogether free for the Lord’s service or are employed, we have the Scripture which says:—
“For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants and TO EVERY MAN HIS WORK, and commanded the porter to watch” (Mark 13:34).
Opportunity is yours. Opportunity is a wonderful word. In its derivation it means, arriving at the harbour—ob, near; portus, harbour. How comforting are the words, “So He bringeth them unto their desired haven” (Ps. 107:30). God knows our desires to please Him, and these desires, if given by Him, He will fulfil and support, and bring us right into our desired harbour. May we not miss our way.