Recently I was changing out the ignition coils on my car. I brought my son out to watch as I worked on it. He watched me intently as I used the ratchet to remove the engine cover. As I began to work on the next level, he grabbed a screw driver and began sticking it in the engine area. I asked him to stop, but he kept sticking it in places. I told him, “This is my work. Your work is to watch.” He replied, “But I can do it.” I explained that he could mess something up if he didn’t stop, and it could be expensive. He wasn’t happy about it and walked away.
I don’t know if there’s a more accurate picture of how we are with God at times. He tries to do a work in our lives, but we want to do it. We jump in the middle of it and start messing with what He’s doing. He tells us to stand back because this is His work, but we insist that we can do it. Instead of seeing God do an incredible work, we often mess up what He’s trying to accomplish. Abraham getting his wife’s servant pregnant is a prime example.
I know we mean well, but there are things God does, and there are things we do. He usually invites us to participate with Him, but there are times when we just need to stand back and watch Him work. In Psalm 19:13 David prayed, “Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work” (MSG). David understood the temptation we all face in wanting to do God’s work for Him, so he prayed this brilliant prayer.
Are you arguing with God right now over what’s His responsibility and what’s yours? We all do it from time to time. Let me encourage you to pray what David prayed, and then take your hand back from God’s work. He can do exceedingly above and beyond anything we could ever do. Part of faith is trusting Him to do His work while we do ours. It’s not our responsibility to try to do His work. Like Abraham, we need to learn to trust that God knows what He’s doing and He will fulfill His promises even though we can’t see how.
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” is a proverb so many of us were raised with. From our childhood we are taught that we should hold onto what is certain instead of going for the unsure thing. We are taught that risk isn’t worth it through this proverb. I would even say that this proverb teaches against faith. It wants us to hold on to what we have instead of letting go to see what God might give us.
Abraham was a man who walked by faith. In Genesis 12:1, the Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home, and go to a land that I am going to show you” (NLT). In this verse, God is asking Abram to let go of the bird in the hand. He had security where he was. He had his father’s inheritance coming to him and the protection of family too. God was saying, “Walk away from all of this, and I will give you more than you could ever imagine or think of.”
I believe God still speaks that to us today. I believe He calls each one of us to trust Him on a level beyond where we are so that He can give us more than we have. The promise is only good if we let go of the bird in the hand. Abram was promised descendants, a nation, blessings and fame if only he would walk away from everything he knew. I wonder how long he wrestled with it. I wonder how long he questioned if he had really heard from God.
Because Abram was human, you know he had to struggle with these questions just like you and I. The difference is that he was willing let go of the temporary for the eternal. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” God has called you and I to live by the same faith he required of Abram. He calls us to let go of the bird in the hand and to trust Him. When we do, He rewards us with so much more.
In Genesis 6, we read where God gave Noah the blueprints for the ark. He told him it was to be 450 feet long, 45 feet high and 75 feet wide. He told him what kind of wood to use, how many levels to have, how to waterproof the wood, to build stalls and even told him why he was to do it and how it would happen. I got a little jealous of Noah as I read all of that because he got a blueprint of exactly what God wanted from him with each step.
I’d love for God to do that for me. Instead, I feel more like Abraham who God told, “Leave your native land and go to the land that I will show you.” There were no blueprints, no reasons or navigational directions. He was simply told to pack his stuff, leave his relatives and everything he’d known for a land that he would be shown without being given a reason. I don’t know if he felt the doubt, frustration and fear that I do from being in those shoes.
At first, I started to think that Abraham was the one who really acted in faith. After all, he didn’t get a step by step guide like Noah. The more I think about it, the more I see how much faith it took from Noah to accomplish his task even with a blueprint. When God shows you something you’ve never seen or heard of and asks you to do it, that requires a lot of faith. Even with a blueprint, you are venturing into the unknown, the uncomfortable. It requires your faith to start building.
Whether God has given you a set of blueprints or has asked you to follow Him with blind trust, it requires faith on your part. Faith to pick up that first board or faith to pack your bags and take that first step. Those first actions are often scary and difficult. When facing that fear, we need to remember the words Jesus spoke in Mark 5:35, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith” (NLT). Take courage today and do something today that moves you in the direction of what He asked you to do.
Have you ever felt like you were meant for more than you’re doing right now? Does it feel like God has been ignoring you or isn’t keeping His promise to you? It’s hard to wait for God to put you where He promised to place you. It’s even more difficult to feel stuck in the mundane when you know there’s more to what God has promised to do in your life. So what do you do? Will you give up on your calling? Will you try to force your way into it by making things happen yourself? Or will you wait patiently?
When I think of giving up on my calling, I’m reminded of the Prodigal Son. He was tired of waiting for his inheritance. He didn’t think the day would come when he could be in charge of his father’s household. So he did the unthinkable. He asked for his inheritance and decided to show his father he was capable on his own. After he squandered his inheritance, he had too much pride to go to his father to admit he wasn’t ready. After a lot of time slopping hogs and living destitute, he made his way back to his father’s house.
When I think of trying to force my way into my calling, I think of Abraham. God had called him to be the father of many nations with descendants as numerous as the stars. After 25 years, he gave up and decided that he would fulfill it himself. He took his wife’s maid and got her pregnant. God revisited him to remind him the promise was going to come through his wife. Because he rushed things, he created an Achilles Heel for his descendants that remains to this day.
When I think of waiting patiently, I think of David. God called him to be king while he was tending sheep. David understood that he wasn’t ready to fulfill his calling even though he had been called. He looked at where he was and saw that God could use his current situation to help him be better at his calling. Even though the fulfillment of his calling was many years later, he stayed faithful where he was until the right time came.
Each of us have one of these three choices in our lives. I personally believe God is getting us ready for our calling in the mundane. Psalm 78:70-72 says, “He chose his servant David; he took him from the pastures, where he looked after his flocks, and he made him king of Israel, the shepherd of the people of God. David took care of them with unselfish devotion and led them with skill” (GNT). The skills David learned while watching sheep gave him the skill to be the best at his calling. What skills are you learning now that will help to fulfill yours? The right choice is to wait patiently for God to move. Just keep tending sheep in the mean time.
Have you ever tried to right your wrongs? Have you tried to do two good things for every bad thing you’ve done? Have you tried to play God in situations? We’ve all interfered with things thinking, “This is what God wants. Maybe He’s been waiting on me to do it.” So we stick our nose where it doesn’t belong and we try to do what only God can do. We try to enforce God’s will in a situation only to make it worse.
Abraham tried it with Hagar. He knew that God was going to give him a child, but he couldn’t see how. To me, that’s the most dangerous territory we can find ourselves in. When we know what God’s will is, but we don’t see the path to the promise. In those moments, we often try to do God’s work for Him. We improvise and innovate in order to make what God said co e true when we think it needs to. Why? Because we are impatient.
I imagine David felt this way too. It had been declared to him that he was the next king of Israel, but his best friend’s dad was the king. There was no path to the promise. As Saul hinted him down, David had the opportunity, on more than one occasion, to kill Saul and to inherit the kingdom. But David didn’t do what Abraham and so many of us do. He didn’t make his own path, he waited for God’s path to open up. What made him different?
I believe the answer is in many Psalms, including Psalm 19. In verse 13 David prayed, ” Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I could take over your work” (MSG). David prayed often that God would keep him from doing what only God can do. He asked God to keep him from deliberate sins. He used the power of prayer to ask God to help him live the way God wanted him to. In return, he got the patience to wait for God’s plan to work itself out without him messing it up.
For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.
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