For those of you old enough to remember talent shows before ‘The X Factor’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, there was a show called ‘Opportunity Knocks‘. This talent show was famously hosted by Hughie Green, and later editions were hosted by Bob Monkhouse from 1987 until 1989 with Les Dawson (a former winner) in 1990.Unlike its rival New Faces, the winning acts on Opportunity Knocks were decided not by a panel of experts but by the viewing public. A singing dog apparently once won the show!

I’m not a great fan of this kind of programme, but was reminded of this show the other day when I came across a quote from Thomas Edison about opportunity. I think this is more apt than the kind of sensationalist talent show which currently graces our TV screens!

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” (Thomas Edison)

I think this is very true. So often we want the glitz and glamour of fame and fortune, of ‘being discovered’, of having our moment in the limelight. But we often fail to recognise the God-given opportunities we face every day because they don’t look like we expect them to. Abraham’s servant, coming to a well at the end of a long journey, seeking a wife for his master’s son and praying that God would send the right person to him… Ordinary moments can be very much God’s hand working in our lives, but it may not look spectacular. For every amazing victory (think of David and Goliath!), there has generally been a lot of behind-the-scenes activity that looked very ordinary (David being a shepherd, taking on the wild animals as part of his everyday job description…)

We attended a concert last week given by Jack Gibbons. This talented pianist amazed us with his skill and ability to play. His repertoire is vast – classical, jazz, many different styles of music. But behind the glamour of a 2 hour concert lie hours and hours of work… opportunity in overalls, practising tirelessly, repetitively, boringly. He has transcribed all the works of George Gershwin by ear from recordings made in the 1920s and 1930s, once spending all day listening to the notes of one single chord to make sure they were right. Does this look like opportunity or hard work?! Sometimes, perhaps, the two things are indistinguishable…