Posts Tagged ‘opportunity’

PSALM 127

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
    the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives sleep to his beloved.

Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the sons of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has
    his quiver full of them.
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

There is a theory in psychology called ‘misattribution theory’, which states in part that we human beings have a universal habit of taking credit for things we have little or no control over, even as we place blame for our failures on those very same things. If I served an ace just now, it was because of my remarkable talent and athletic skill; but if I next send the ball wide of the line, it will be because the sun was in my eyes or my grip slipped on my racket.

The psalmist is probably saying something even more profound: that in addition to possessing the necessary construction skills and sufficient resources, the ultimate will and intention of the universe (which religion names “God”) must be behind and within the effort for the house to be built or else it just won’t get done. This may sound like we’re making God into nothing more than a personification of fate, but spiritual wisdom doesn’t regard God as just another name for “whatever happens.”

There is, rather, an acknowledgement of God as the creative and organizing intelligence that wills the universe into being and guides its evolutionary process. Why is it that the identical blueprint, materials, strategy, and effort can succeed magnificently one year but repeatedly fail later on? We might say “timing,” and the psalmist would agree. Worrying about it won’t help. Instead, keep your eyes open for God-given opportunities!

2 SAMUEL 11:1-15

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.

It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, “This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house. The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”

So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.” 12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day,13 David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.”

In his book Awaken the Leader Within, Bill Perkins defines temptation as having the inclination to sin and the opportunity to sin – at the same time. Inclination refers to the inner urge, the tendency, the itch to do something we know isn’t right and good. Opportunity is what the environment brings around or opens up to us at a particular moment in time.

You may have the inclination toward sin – doing what alienates you from the constancy of God’s grace and from the higher reaches of well-being – but no opportunity. In that case, it will likely remain a mere fantasy. (This is not altogether innocent, as Jesus taught, for all kinds of trouble are born out of the runaway fantasies of the human heart.) If, on the other hand, the opportunity comes around but you have no desire for its realization, temptation will pass you by, probably unrecognized. But when the two coincide, watch out!

With her husband away in battle, the sight of the bathing Bathsheba from King David’s palace roof was only an opportunity for him. It was the subsequent arousal of his lust for her that made it into a temptation. Still, even at the precise moment, when the fantasies had begun forming in David’s mind, he could have listened to his conscience and closed the blinds. Instead, he followed the lure of impulse. After all, he was king!