From Obstacles to Opportunities

The women who went to the tomb Easter morning saw a job to do: anoint the body of their friend and teacher, who had been buried quickly before the Sabbath. Removing the stone was an obstacle they were concerned about. But God was working behind the scenes, totally removing the obstacle, and giving them a much better job: to run back and tell the amazing story to their friends—that Jesus was alive!

Women today still have plans that get changed somehow. Instead of becoming discouraged, what would happen if we saw challenges or obstacles as opportunities for God to redirect us, with a much better avenue to accomplish his purposes?

Here are some who benefited from challenges.

Pacific South Region women have a yearly spring retreat at a wonderful California Hot Springs location. Three years ago, faced with lower cash-flow, they needed to cut expenses. Instead of a weekend speaker, they used a “Retreat-in-a-Box” from Group Publishing—a great cost solution. They also found this interactive method was much more appealing to younger women, yielding better involvement and excitement from the younger generation.

Pastors’ wives in the Pacific North Region wanted to get together yearly for a Pastors’ Wives’ retreat, desiring each other’s support. But money was only budgeted for alternate years. So, they got creative. Using donated vacation homes, volunteer meals, and cooperative planning, they’ve made it happen. Nobody is pampered, but all are appreciative!

Olympia, Washington women have a two-day get-away at their church. It is video and discussion-based, requiring little preparation. Pastries and fruit for a “breakfast bar” make it easy for even late-comers to grab something and slip into the group. Lunch is simple and low-key as well, so those helping in the kitchen don’t miss anything.

Sometimes life difficulties are the challenge:

One woman, who had been very involved in her church, found that her cancer treatments slowed her down. Then she started seeing that God was using her in unexpected ways to share her life and faith with her fellow cancer patients. God helped her see an opportunity that she embraced, even in that difficult situation.

Another woman welcomed the prayers of her church for her own upcoming cancer surgery. Months later, she shared that she was amazed by people who told her, long after her surgery, that they were still praying for her. Unknown to those praying, God was not only healing her cancer, but using them to draw her closer to himself, and to his body of believers.

A pastor’s wife currently attends an exercise class at the “Y” to meet others in her community. Since friendships are often formed through common interests, her challenge is that most women in her class are very different from her in practically every way: age, politics, and even some by sexual preference. But she has found herself surprised at the love God is giving her for them—caring for them as true friends, and eagerly looking forward to what God is going to do through her.

What is your challenge? Look for the opportunity God will provide to love others through you!

Cheryl Olsen is the Faith & Fellowship correspondent for Women’s Ministries of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.