Last week I had a doctor's appointment to talk with my doctor about all the fun things, you know, like cholesterol and triglycerides. I lean toward the high side when it comes to overall cholesterol so we had a long discussion about ways to help lower the levels. She said something that made my mind wander for a few seconds. She said, (I will paraphrase because I'm not sure of her exact words) as doctors we can give you all the tools and even prescribe medications to help you, but ultimately, it's your choice to use these tools and take medications, we can't MAKE you do anything . To me this was a simple yet profound statement that can certainly be applied to my faith.
I think many times I get caught up in the idea that if I just pray hard enough, things should happen, that God will do all the work, He is God after all. I tend to be the kind of person who doesn't like to step out of my comfort zone. I like to stay in my cozy little bubble. Although the older I get the easier it is for me to leap into the world of the unknown, there are many times I miss opportunities to serve because of a lack of confidence, confidence in the tools God has given me. And though I am talking now about serving God, these tools are also there to serve my children and my husband, my family and my friends. Just as a physician gives us tools to be healthy, so does God give us the tools He knows we need to be successful individuals in this world. The tools we need to live out the plan He has for our lives, but we need to have the confidence and ambition to use these tools to get us to where He wants us to be. Simply asking God for a better job or well behaved children will do us no good if we do not act and perform in such a way that will make things happen. I learned this lesson many years ago with my first child. I couldn't only pray that he would be a well behaved child, I also needed to show him and guide him, to teach and discipline him. To help him learn the lessons he would need as he grows in this world. And so I begin this journey again with another 2-year old. I am reminded every night when I lay down in prayer, thanking God for my wonderful blessings,asking him to help them grow into faithful people, I also need act. I have a comprehensive role in the way my children will turn out, who they will become. I cannot change the plan God has laid for them, but I can do my best to help play an active role in His plan because I know that I am part of that plan. God has given me the tools to help them grow in to Godly people but ultimately it is my choice to take time, energy, and effort to use the tools He gave me to help shape them into people of faith.
I have a dear friend who has a heart of gold, she would do anything, for anyone, at any time. She's going through something right now, a difficult stage in life. Her kids are recently grown and have spread their wings and flown and she is having a hard time adjusting to this change. Her and I talk A LOT about the power or prayer but simply sitting in her house praying about the situation is probably not going to prove effective if she doesn't use her strengths and God given abilities to make the changes that she needs. You see, God gives us what we need to reach our goals and accomplish His plan but we also need to take responsibility and act to achieve these objectives. I have encouraged her to find small groups within her church or find ways to use the gifts God has given her to help others. She is blessed, like we all are, with wonderful attributes, but it's hard to see them though the haze of self-doubt. At times, the vision of God's plan, His goal, can be blurred by earthly challenges, these challenge can make it difficult to remain confident in His plan, especially when we face emotionally trying stages in life. Although there is miraculous power in prayer, we need to act in order to get where God wants us to be. Philippians tells us to stay focused on the goal God has set for us.(v.12-16) And although we do not know the goals God has planned, we press forward, doing everything in our power to advance our life even when we have a bit of clouded vision. This determination shows others the power God has in our lives, even when thing get rough, knowing God has a plan helps us to get up and get going, to use the tools we have available to reach the goals that God has set for us. Even at times of loss, when we have no clue what we're supposed to be doing, if we get up and do all we can to serve others and our God, surely the path will lead us to a place of great comfort, His comfort!
12-14I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward - to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.
15-16So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision - you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it.
Philippians 3:14-16 MSG
Several times a year, my husband and I lead a small group on finances which is offered through our church. I've discovered that a lot of people do what I did for so many years. They pray and ask God to provide for them, especially when they are in trouble, but they never change their behavior and try to be good stewards of what God gives them. Oops! That's what I thought of when I read about your friend. God is a God of miracles but at the same time, He will also at times, hand us the tools, teach us how to use them and then expect us to use them. When you think about it, that's exactly what a good parent does with their children, right?