WHEN OPPORTUNITY DOESN’T KNOCK

P. Erich Bernard Santos

Time and again, we hear the idiom, “When opportunity knocks,” which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as, “when a person gets the chance to do something he or she wants to do,” It means be ready when the opportunity presents itself. We have also heard the idiom, “Opportunity knocks only once.” This means that you only get one chance to achieve what you really want to do. You never know if you’ll get another opportunity. Thus we say in Latin, Carpe Diem or “Seize the Day.” Don’t miss your chance.

I have personally seen this to be true in many cases. Do not let an opportunity pass. This is not to say we should be “oportunistas,” which, for Filipinos, may be seen as trying to take advantage of others. It is more of a positive attitude of not losing by default – if you have an open door in front of you, go ahead, try it. It may be yours or it may not be. If it’s not, at least you tried. As my high school motto says, “It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try.”

But the question is, WHAT IF OPPORTUNITY DOESN’T KNOCK? What if there are no open doors? What if nothing new presents itself? What if God seems silent as to the next step?

In my experience as a Christian, I have seen the Lord open many doors. But I have also experienced closed doors. One of the most difficult feelings is when God seems silent when I need an answer. Lately, I have been experiencing this because of how the pandemic has affected the operation of our school. I had many miracle stories in the past and now I have been asking God, “where are the miracles?” I know He is not obligated to answer my questions but I ask anyway.

It is a Father and son dynamic. I come as a child pouring out my heart to God. In most cases, He just wants me to remain still in His presence. “Be still and l know that I am God.” In some cases, though, He lets me look at things from a different perspective. It is like He is saying, “Look around you and see what I have already prepared ahead.” Look beyond the clouds. Look beyond the trees.

Three things I have learned to do when opportunities don’t knock.

  1. LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES.

Matthew 7:7 states, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Sometimes we need to knock. Try opening some closed doors that are not locked. I do not mean pushing something that God doesn’t want for us. But if we do not know what the Lord wants, it is good to look a bit at what’s behind that door. If it’s ajar, just push it a little. Or maybe just look out the window and see what God is doing behind the closed door. How do I do this? How do we look for opportunities? Two suggestions.

  • Revisit Divine appointments

I have seen God make my path cross others’ paths that may not seem relevant at that moment. However, at the proper time, suddenly God brings to mind a Divine appointment and sets something in motion. In other cases, God reminds me of people I have met in the past that may actually have an answer to what I need now – counsel, opinion, instruction, connection, or it could even be provision!

In 1996, my wife and I helped set up a Filipino-Japanese construction firm. We were part of the Board but we mostly did foundational work and provided assistance in dealing with local government agencies. In 2001, our school leased a new property that needed total renovation. When the head of the company heard about it, he asked me what my plans are. No plans yet. I did not even how to go about starting any work. And he said, “The company will do it.” I responded by saying we do not have money. And he responded that they will do it. Pay when able. That was a Divine transaction.

Just recently, I got connected to a person from a Christian university in Korea. He met one of our graduates and found out she was a graduate of ACE. She then connected him with me. In just a few weeks’ time, he was in Manila and we visited schools. Connected. Divine appointment. But what was surprising was when I told him I was at the border of North and South Korea in 2016 for a prayer gathering. He said he was there. I got my phone and showed him one of the pictures I took from the stage. Lo and behold, he was at the middle of the picture I took eight years earlier. We looked at each other and both agreed that that was a Divine appointment indeed. Do not dismiss it when God brings people into your life. One day He will make your paths cross again. I have seen this time and again. Either I have a need or the other person needs you.

  • Look at your network.

A bigger picture of Divine appointments is your network. We all have networks of relationships – friends, relatives, communities, churches, organizations, and colleagues in the Christian Education ministry. We were made to connect. We were created for relationships. Christianity itself is a reasonable response to a relationship with Christ. Then that cascades down into our human relationships. During the pandemic, when all seemed “silent,” I realized that I have probably missed out on some opportunities. I was so focused on our difficulties that it dawned on me that I missed the opportunity to seek help from others. Worse, I missed the opportunity to minister to others who are in need. In the midst of my own turmoil, I could have reached out to others who are sinking in their own quagmire of pain and distress. As I remember someone saying, “when you are in need, look for someone else in need.” Opportunities are not just about us but about others.

  • CREATE OPPORTUNITIES.

The power to create is part of us being made in the image of God. That separates us from the rest of creation. While in the animal kingdom we see built-in creators the way God designed them to be, only humans can truly conceptualize, visualize, and create. Every time I view the exhibits in Student Conventions, I cannot help but think that these students are proclaiming the fact that we are made in God’s image.

The same holds true with creating opportunities. When I was in college, I have always wanted to attend the National Congress of College Students. Sadly, only college council presidents can be nominated in our university. I was not. In fact, our college did not have a council yet. I did something not many would do. I nominated myself and presented my credentials to the Dean of Student Affairs. When the list of the five university representatives were announced, my name was there. Opportunity created. Well, if ever I was not chosen, at least I tried to create an opportunity. “Ask and it shall be given you.” If not given, then I know it was not God’s will. There was no other way of knowing.

Last year, we took a step of faith for those who wanted to join the ACE International Convention. Coming out of the pandemic, getting an appointment for US visa interview takes months. We could have raised our hands in surrender and said that while it was not impossible, it was highly improbable. It was February when School of Tomorrow Philippines wrote a letter to the Ambassador of the US to request for two things – an early schedule and a group interview accommodation. Applicants did their own homework and we forwarded all necessary documents to the embassy with the letter. We were granted both requests. Opportunity created.

This applies to our schools as we apply for permits, seek recognition, raise funds, and more. “Seek and ye shall find.” If you hit a wall, look for another door. Write letters. Make phone calls. The answers may just be waiting for our move.

  • TRUST GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY.

What if after looking for opportunities and creating opportunities, God is still silent? Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” That was not written in the context of peace. “. . . though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” That is not a good picture. Still God says, “Be still.” Cease striving. Rest in His loving arms and trust His sovereignty.

God is God and He knows what is happening. Beyond the big picture that I see, there is a bigger picture that only God sees.

This is my story. The pandemic hit us hard. Enrollment is down. Money . . . scarce. We need a new property. I prayed but God seems silent. As they say, when you hit rock bottom, you have no choice but to look up. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”

I am in Bernal, Queretaro, Mexico as I finish this article. I woke up to a beautiful view of the Peña de Bernal. The Rock of Bernal. And it reminded me of our theme this year, “Conquering More Mountains.” God brought me back to this place to remind me – there are more mountains to conquer. This “silent” experience is building up the inner man for the greater challenges that are yet to come.

WHAT IF OPPORTUNITY DOESN’T KNOCK? Just REMAIN FAITHFUL where you are.

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.” – Habakkuk 3:17-19

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