In an earlier post we began discussing a popular belief within the church. When God calls us to do a work, say a word, or touch a life, we have an option whether or not to take it upon ourselves to do it. If we choose to go ahead and do it, that’s great. But if we decide not to do it we don’t have to worry because God will bring along someone else to complete it in our place.
At the time, we talked about just how well we have learned this lesson. We apply this truth equally to the small matters in our lives and the larger issues. Its application is almost flawless. Yet the lesson we are applying is flawed.
To change our mindset here we must learn to appreciate what God appreciates. In this case we aren’t talking about the splendor of Creation, the inspiration of the Word of God or the importance of the work of Christ in our lives. Instead we need to look in the mirror and understand the value God has for us.
Again, this is more than just God’s great love for all of mankind. We are told that God loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die as a sacrifice that covers our sins (John 3:16). It also says that God is not willing that any soul should perish but that all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), an acknowledgment that we have sinned against God but that He will forgive us in His mercy (Ephesians 2:8-9). And as we believe in the work of Jesus Christ we are adopted into the family of God to be His children (Galatians 4:4-5).
Fulfilling Good Works
Yet there is more that God values our lives for besides joining His spiritual family. He sees us, not just as sons and daughters, but as agents of Heaven. We have been given the badge of Heaven, so to speak, that we might live our days on Earth performing the works of Heaven.
Consider how Paul joins the thought of our salvation with the works that God has for us to live our lives completing.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV)
Each time that God leads us, whether to act or to speak, it is to follow a plan that God has already prepared beforehand. We are told that Jesus was born “in the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4), when the world was perfectly setup for His coming. Each deed and word that God asks us to complete is another step to the fullness of time for God’s will.
Our world is like a game of chess that is constantly in play, and God is always moving one piece at a time to reach the goals of His will. In chess or checkers, you pick up a piece and move it. Even if it is going to be sacrificed for a later play, it does as you wish.
But we have received the gift of free will. God doesn’t just pick us up and move us. He leads us, and we have the choice to follow. If we go with His leading the board moves closer to its intended end. When we choose to ignore, or worse fight against His leading, the game board and pieces require some shuffling.
“We Were So Sure”
I’ve lived for Canada for over eight years, moving from the United States. We felt pressed by God to take the leap of faith. In the last time of prayer before we chose to follow God’s leading, I felt Him say, “If you don’t go now, you’re going to miss it.” So I quit my day job, gave my church a month’s notice, and we packed up our two small children and left the suburbs of Boston for a fishing village in New Brunswick.
Do you know what it’s like to take that kind of a leap of faith? Sure, everyone says they support you and you are confident that you heard from God, but in the back of your head you wonder if you’ve really done the right thing.
I don’t remember what day of the week we arrived on, but just a couple of days later it was Thursday. My father-in-law, Albert, used to drive into town and meet with some folks at one of the churches for prayer on Thursday nights. He was so excited at our coming, believing with us that God had lead us there, that grabbed me and took me in with him that night to meet the pastor of the host church.
When we arrived the scene was chaotic. It wasn’t a prayer meeting. The church was getting ready to host a special weekend for teens to bring them closer to Jesus. As Albert introduced me to the pastor we were explained about what was happening. When she heard that I was a pastor just moved into the area, she froze and her eyes glazed over. Turns out that she was deep in thought. She asked me to wait around for a while as she talked with some folks.
Some time later she returned with another leader of the event in tow. They proceeded to tell me that their program for the weekend was strictly designed so that so many guy teens went with a guy leader, and the same for the girls. For the past few hours they were wracking their brains because one of their guy leaders didn’t show. In fact, he told them repeatedly that he wasn’t interested. The leadership team was counting on him coming, though, because they believed that God had lead them to him through prayer. Now they were scrambling to figure out how they could reorganize things in this man’s absence. So they asked me to fill his spot. (Oh yeah, I did.)
The Missing Piece
Maybe you’re thinking, “But Chris, that proves you wrong.” Or does it? They were so sure that this guy was the man for the job. Yet he refused. Though God brought me along, I still could have said no. And then where would they be?
Have you ever completed a puzzle and had just one piece missing from the picture? Maybe you had plans to frame that masterpiece that you invested so much time in. What do you do with it now?
We need to realize that even though we are one piece of God’s puzzle, our piece is key to finishing the picture. Without our following God’s leading, He cannot accomplish the plan that He developed long ago. They were designed for us to live our lives completing them. If they were assigned to us, and we are called to complete them, how do you think God feels when we choose to leave them undone? His game board is stalled and His puzzle goes unfinished.
Does that sound like a “good and faithful servant” situation? Oddly enough, one of the primary Scriptures that we use as a foundation of this mindset tells us just how terrible it is for those who ignore God’s direction to act. That comes next…