Seizing the Opportunity (Alma 19)
Opportunity: A set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something
Alma 19 is an exciting part of the story of Ammon's missionary effort among the Lamanites. In this chapter, the Lamanite king and queen are overcome by the Spirit of God, an angry Lamanite tries to kill Ammon only to be struck dead by God, and many Lamanites are converted, and the church is begun in that city.
One of the key participants in this episode is a Lamanite woman named Abish, who had been converted to the Lord many years earlier. She had kept her faith secret until this time, waiting for the opportunity to be used by God. Seeing the king and queen overcome by the Spirit, Abish recognizes that the circumstances exist for her to do something to further the work of the Lord, and she seizes the opportunity:
"When she saw that [they] had fallen to the earth…she knew that it was the power of God; and supposing that this opportunity…would cause them (the Lamanite people) to believe in the power of God, therefore she ran forth from house to house, making it known unto the people." (Alma 19:17)
As a result of Abish taking action at the time when the opportunity existed, many Lamanite people witness the power of God, and they are converted to the Lord that day.
Are you someone who wants to do something for the Lord? If so, are the circumstances right for you to do something right now? Are these circumstances such that they will change in time, making it less possible or even impossible to do the same thing later? Sometimes, the window of opportunity is narrow; other times, it may seem like the circumstances will stay the same for a long time. Regardless, don't delay — seize the opportunity while it exists!
When I was a young evangelist, I had a desire to be involved with foreign mission work, and I felt drawn to the island of Dominica as the church was just getting started there. However, the missionary teams were fully staffed at the time, so there was no opportunity for me to go. While at October Conference that year, I heard that a minister was planning a trip to Dominica, departing on Thanksgiving Day. Due to the holiday, there was no other minister planning to travel with him.
Could this be my opportunity to go? The timing wasn't ideal — it would mean missing Thanksgiving with my family. However, my very supportive wife encouraged me to seize the opportunity, and I made my first foreign mission trip to Dominica, beginning a relationship that has taken me back there about 50 times since.
Some opportunities are one-time opportunities as described above; others may exist for years. However, even lengthy opportunities eventually expire, so we still need to seize the opportunity while circumstances permit. For example:
- If you're a young person, take advantage of opportunities to go to Campout or Youth in Action or other youth-related activities. The time will come when you're working full time or raising a family, and the same opportunities won't exist.
- If you're a parent, teach your children about the Lord while they're young and bring them to as many church activities as possible. The time will come when they are grown, and your influence on them will be greatly diminished.
- If you're a healthy adult, be as active as possible in working for the Lord, whether locally or in other parts of the country or internationally. Don't wait for the "golden years" when the body starts to break down and health may prevent you from being as active as you can be now.
Whether your opportunities to do something for the Lord are many or few, you have to seize an opportunity in order to do anything. If you feel that your opportunities are few, it's then even more important to seize them when they come along. Abish waited many years for an opportunity to use her faith to affect her people for Christ — when it came, she jumped on it. If she let that one pass, she may have never had another opportunity. Let's not let opportunities to do something for the Lord pass us by.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.