“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming” I Peter 1:13 (NIV).
Last time we talked, I wasn’t saying God doesn’t sometimes call us to take action. Sometimes that action is in the form of fasting and praying for a specific amount of time (think about Esther who fasted and prayed along with her community for three days), sometimes it takes the form of fighting a specific battle (remember Joshua), and sometimes it take the form of stepping out in faith with an action (Peter stepping out the boat and walking on the water).
However, I like to remember the Israelites and how God used their story as a perfect example of how He wants us to live our lives. He led them through the desert for forty years, giving them just enough instructions and provisions on a daily basis. They were commanded to collect manna and/or quail every day (except for the Sabbath). God led them with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day. They never knew when they would be instructed to pull up camp and walk, stop and set up camp, or how long they would be staying in a particular spot. God was teaching them obedience and total dependence on Him. He wanted to provide for His children. He wanted them to learn that He loved them so fiercely He would do what it took to protect, defend, and provide for them.
So, when God gives us specific instructions from His word to take action, we’re being disobedient if we wait to be rescued. And, if God instructs us to stand firm (as He did me), then I’m being disobedient by trying to use works to convince God to hear me louder. I think God specifically told me to stand firm because He wanted me, like the Israelites, to learn He would supply for my needs. It wasn’t what I did or didn’t do that made my prayers heard. It’s what He did for me that allowed miracles to happen and provisions to be met.
The great thing about what I figured out? He hears me just fine. He heard me just fine last spring, He heard me all summer and all fall, and He still hears me loud and clear. He didn’t punish me because I mistakenly took my obedience of godly things and turned them into a work instead of an act of love. No, even while He was gently teaching me the life lesson about works versus grace, He continued to provide lovingly for our needs. You see, God is pleased and it blesses Him when we fast, pray without ceasing, tithe regularly, and grow our faith. But, our motivation for doing those things makes all the difference. It’s all about our heart.
© 2013 Cheri Swalwell