Opportunity Never Knocks

Does not wisdom call?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:
Hear, for I will speak noble things,
and from my lips will come what is right.
— Proverbs 8:1-3, 6 ESV

My doctoral work set us back tens of thousands of dollars. I do not regret it. Spending money to acquire knowledge is a good thing. The writer of proverbs says "Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding" (Proverbs 23:23).

How valuable is a good education? It's priceless.

For wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.
— Proverbs 8:11 ESV

When God says, "Buy truth," and "wisdom is better than jewels," I take him seriously. Education and books are high on my priority list. On the other hand, if I think I have to mortgage my future to acquire knowledge and wisdom I have blundered badly.

Wisdom comes free for those who listen. That may not make sense in our day of runaway  educational costs, but it is true. Wisdom stands and "raises her voice" for those who will listen.

Isn't that just like God? Giving freely that which is priceless.

I heard Wisdom's clear call the other night. I was sitting in bed with my recently purchased used 1958 copy of One Hundred And One Famous Poems, compiled by Roy J. Cook. Unlike my doctoral texts, I picked up this little gem for a few dollars.

Sitting there, I heard Wisdom's voice on page 2. It whispered quite clearly through the poem entitled, Opportunity, penned by Edward R. Sill who died 130 years ago.

Read this poem slowly. I suspect you will run into a few words that may give you fits: "Shocked" means "sudden and violent blows"; a "craven" is one who is cowardly; and "bestead" refers to that which is situated.

This is a life-lesson in seventeen short lines.

This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream: --
There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;
And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince's banner
Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.

A craven hung along the battle's edge,
And thought, "Had I a sword of keener steel--
That blue blade that the king's son bears--but this
Blunt thing!" --he snapped and flung it from his hand.
And lowering crept away and left the field.

Then came the king's son, wounded, sore bestead,
And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,
Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout
Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,
And saved a great cause that heroic day.

How many times have I been ready to quit because the resources in my hands were "not good enough"? How many times have I failed to see the opportunity hidden in the sand?

Wisdom shouts: "Don't play the craven, because you are the King's son."

Reading Sill's masterpiece, I realize opportunity never knocks. It shouts. And when it doesn't shout it lies waiting half-buried in the sand. Wisdom revealed this.

Wisdom and opportunity will meet at the crossroads of your life today.

Are you listening? Will you pick up the sword?