When faced with a challenge, decision, or barrier, one of the most difficult things I find is balancing my responsibility with God’s sovereignty. On the surface, this may not seem challenging. But when you are really in thick of it, searching for answers, and wondering what the next step is, this becomes a constant question. When do I leave it to God? When do I “take things into my own hands”? If you try to be pro-active, people may say, “Stop trying to do it all on your own” or, “You just need to trust God.” But if we simply trust God, does that take all of the responsibility from us? Can you cross a line into laziness?
Recently, I have been reading through the book of Genesis. In chapter 25, we begin the story of Jacob and Esau, twins born to Isaac. Jacob and Esau was sibling rivalry at its best! You may be familiar with the story. Isaac is nearing death, and he sends Esau, his favorite son, out to the fields to hunt and prepare for him a meal. While he is gone, Jacob, under the direction of his mother (a total momma’s boy!), dresses up as Esau and fools his dad into giving him the blessing that belonged to Esau, being the elder son. As you can guess, this doesn’t go over well with Esau, and he vows to kill his brother. Jacob flees the land to hide from his brother. Years pass, and God tells Jacob it is time to return home. By this time, Jacob has become a wealthy man with a large family, servants and herds of animals.
When we pick up the story in Genesis 32, Jacob sends a servant ahead to meet Esau and give him many gifts to try and make peace. This is the servant’s report back to Jacob…
When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” Genesis 32:6
Umm, not a good sign! 400 men sounds a lot like a personal army. So, here we find our dilemma. How will Jacob balance the mortal with the Divine? Will he take things into his own hands? Or will he simply trust God that he, and all those with him, are not going to be slaughtered?
In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.”
Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac… Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’ “ Genesis 32:9-12
He did both! He wisely divided his camp into two groups in order to save some if things went horribly wrong. But Jacob then prayer to the God of the universe to save him, knowing that God’s intervention would be the only thing that truly would save him.
This reminds me of a cliche. But I think it is a good one…
Work as if it all depends on you, and pray as if it all depends on God
Work as if it all depends on you
STOP SITTING BACK AND DOING NOTHING, ALL IN THE NAME OF “WAITING ON GOD”!This is nothing more than laziness, fear, and a lack of trust in the Lord! I think this whole idea of “Waiting on God” is a unique modern, American philosophy. It sounds good. But look at Scripture: David, Jonathan and his armor-bearer, Paul and his missionary journeys. Each one trusted in God’s sovereignty AS they moved forward. God WILL guide us. But the rudder of a ship can only steer a moving vessel!
Pray as if it all depends on God
Our best laid plans are nothing without Divine Intervention! Pray, pray, and pray some more. And read your Bible, too. If we aren’t reading His Word, then our prayers are nothing more than a one-sided conversation. Trusting God is difficult. Anyone who says otherwise has not lost a job or a loved one. I have lost both. And let me tell you, trusting God is difficult! But it is the only thing that gives us hope. God is always working behind the scenes for His children.
So, the next time you are faced with a challenge, remember to trust God with all of your heart and then move forward with confidence, knowing the God of the universe has got your back!
Have you faced a tough decision or barrier lately? How did you respond? I would love to hear thoughts…
If you want to read the rest of the story, you can read it here.