My family watched a movie recently, Evan Almighty. It was a cute film, one I would strongly recommend. Morgan Freeman plays God and and Steve Carell a US congressman who is given the task from God to build an ark. I won’t tell you the whole plot, but suffice it to say that Evan runs in to some obstacles while starting the project. One of those is convincing his wife that he actually is acting under God’s command. She is a good woman but she simply does not understand him. So finally she takes the kids and drives off, leaving Evan alone with his work.
Then something happens. She meets God. Well… she doesn’t know it’s God, but he start a conversation with her. And the words he speaks affect her so deeply (of course) that she immediately turns around to go home to her husband. These are the words God tells her:
If someone prays for patience, does God give them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient?
If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does he give them the opportunity to be courageous?
If someone prayed for their family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does he give them opportunities to love each other?
When I heard that I had to stop, rewind and look at it again. I was struck by the profoundness, yet simplicity of those word. I thought to myself: Yes, of course! Whatever we gain in life of real value, we gain through our experiences. So if God wants to bless us, sure, theoretically he could just send blessings our way without any effort on our part. But then we would loose the real blessing: the opportunity; meaning the work, effort, and experience associated with these important attributes (like patience, courage, and love).
For example, what good will it do if your heart was suddenly struck by a thunderbolt of love? Will you love become stronger? Maybe for a short time, yes, but then what? It’s like when people instantly fall head over heals in love. Most of them fall just as fast out of love. Why? Because there is nothing substantial there to hold their love together. What really matters are the opportunities given us to show love. And those moments can be big or small: saying “yes” at the alter – and meaning it; massaging a sore back; helping your wife with the diapers and dishes; communicating your feelings openly and honestly; carrying a crying baby at night so your loved one can sleep; and in Evan’s case… building an ark.
I learned a lesson that day, that I would not complain so much about the lack of this or that in my life. Instead I would be grateful for every single opportunity to do something about it. Because what is an opportunity, really? Isn’t it our very own chance to prove ourselves? Isn’t it a chance to plant that seed which will grow up to be that very fruit we wish to partake of in the future? Isn’t it our chance to create the surroundings we wish to live in.
Think of all the opportunities in life. Aren’t those the greatest blessings?