Time and Chance in 2012

The wise man gave some excellent advice in Ecclesiastes 9:10-11. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.  I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

 

Each of our lives is filled with opportunity.  Time and chance comes to us all.  Opportunity comes to everyone – not just to certain ones.  Each day we all are given chances – chances to do the right thing or the wrong – chances to be kind or to be ugly – chances to be a blessing to others or to totally ignore that they exist.  Every day we are given opportunities to serve God or not – opportunities to pray, to worship, to love God or to live our lives as if He doesn’t exist.  Time and chance happens to us all!

It simply is not true that some people get all of the breaks.  It just is not true that some folks are doomed to fail.   Chances to advance and to make oneself better comes to one and all.  But the text above tells us that we must learn to recognize those occasions when they come our way.  “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might..”  When the opportunity comes to do the right thing – we must grab it and jump all over it – while we have the chance. Why?  Because that chance will not always exist.  “For there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”  To paraphrase Ecclesiastes 11:3, “As the tree falls, so shall it lie.”  Once our lives are over – what’s done is done.  Pardon the play on words, but when a person “dies” he will have to “live” with the choices he has made.  At that point “time and chance” will forever cease. “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” (Revelation 22:11).  Time and chance only come to us while we live.  Whatever we are going to do must be done now.  “Only one life, so soon it will pass…”

Esau was absolutely without excuse!  He was given every opportunities to become all that God wanted him to be.  We are told that “he would have inherited the blessing.” (Hebrews 12:17).  He would have and could have – but he never did. Everything was there for the taking.  The birthright was his. He was the one who was in the favored position as Isaac’s eldest son.  Yet, “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.”  Despite his many advantages, his potential was never realized – but not for lack of opportunity. No! His problem was that when “time and chance” came his way, he refused to put a muzzle on his appetites.  Though he had many opportunities, he never gave God a place of prominence in his life.  In time he came to regret his decisions – but by then it was too late! For by then “time and chance” had come to his little brother, Jacob, who, unlike Esau, jumped at the chance.  Obviously – Esau was the swift one and the strong one in this story.  And yet Jacob was the one who got the birthright and the blessing. Why? Because he refused to squander the opportunity. When it came his way – he jumped on it!

In the story Jesus related in Luke 16, the rich man was “the swift one” and “the strong one”.  He was the one that “got all the breaks”.  He had all of the advantages.  But it was Lazurus, not the rich man, who was the saved one. Why? Because he was the one who chose to love and to serve God while he had the chance.

In Genesis 49:3-4, Jacob told his eldest son, “Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might; and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel…”  Reuben had all the talents and abilities that were needed to be a great leader.  He was given every opportunity to excel.  Time and chance came his way – but his undisciplined life robbed him of what God had intended for his life.  He failed, but not for lack of opportunity.

God has given us everything that we need to excel 2012. Time and chance have come to us all. This year each of us will come to several forks in the road.  At each one we will have the opportunity to do the right thing.  2012 offers us the chance to give God His deserved place in our lives.  2012 offers us the opportunity to pray, to worship, to witness, to show kindness to someone in need.  Our God is no respecter of persons.  Time and chance comes to us all.  Now let’s go do the right thing!

Rev. Robert Stroup is the District Superintendent of the Indiana District, United Pentecostal Church International. He is Pastor of Pentecostals of South Lake in Merrillville, Indiana.

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