When I graduated from high school I went to Western Illinois University. At WIU I majored in Computer Science, then changed to Physics and took classes ranging from New Testament with Special Emphasis on Jesus and Paul to Human Sexuality. Yeah, the first day of THAT class when the professor asked if anyone had a question a burly football looking type spoke up, “Is this a lab class?” While at WIU I worked in Student Residential Programs, we assigned students to their dorms. Effectively my job was to tell people where to go.
After a year at WIU I took a semester off and transferred to Olivet Nazarene University (ONU). There I majored in Religion, considered Computer Science and ended up in Geology. My bachelor’s degree is in Geology, but as you may remember from the post When Things Change, I have been in Information Technology for close to 20 years. I transferred to ONU for a simple reason, God called me to do so.
“The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. “
In this passage, labeled “The Call of Abram” the Lord tells Abram (who will later be renamed Abraham by God) to “Go from your country”. If you’ve ever read this section of Genesis you may have read verse one and just kept on going. After all, the story of Abram and Sarai (later Abraham and Sarah) is filled with twists and turns, blessings and curses, divine miracles and blatant promiscuity, life and death. It’s an entertaining read. But don’t miss the first words God speaks to Abram, “Go from your country”.
Before you read too much into where you THINK I’m headed here, this blog post is not about moving to another place or changing jobs or finding a different church or any of a myriad of other changes. This post is about not expecting too much of God.
In the passage above and so many other places in scripture God gives people an option, a suggestion, perhaps even a command then tells them what He will do…if they do what He expects. We spend a lot of time singing, praying, praising and thanking God for His promises, but we have to remember that almost every promise has a catch. Oh, you don’t like that term? Does it sound like something bad to you? Ok, I’ll be gentle to your verbal sensitivities. The promises of God are conditional.
Ah, see, that’s better, right? No? Bummer. That’s just the way it works. I’ll give you the most often quoted promise of God, advertised on signs in stands of sporting events for decades.
“For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16 KJV
Did you see the catch in the promise? The promise is “everlasting life” but the catch is to believe in Him, that is Jesus. Salvation is a free gift of grace, but to accept the gift we have to believe in Jesus.
Do you know why I put that whole section about my university years at the top of the blog? So I could make a belabored point. God called me to Olivet, but I had the option of ignoring that call. God told Abram to leave his country, but he could have ignored that call. Abram and I both had the free will to choose. This post isn’t really about free will either. Let me narrow the focus very tightly.
You should not expect too much of God because He won’t do everything that needs to be done.
I like how Mark Batterson puts this principle, “We have to do the natural so God will do the supernatural.”
This is the Happier Husband blog and it’s about better marriages through a host of tips and truths that may or may not be apparent before reading them here. Sally and I have an AMAZING marriage and we thank God for it regularly. Let me tell you three of the thousands of things God did that I can only attribute to Him.
- Sally was originally going to a different university, but God brought her to Olivet.
- An ex-boyfriend of hers and another girl who was pining for him were the agents God used to introduce us to each other.
- Early in our marriage God had someone give us a copy of The Book That Started It All.
Let me tell you the human responses to God’s work that were our part.
- Sally decided Olivet was the place for her, even though her best friend was at the other university.
- When we were introduced I felt God tugging on my heart for her and I pursued her, relentlessly.
- We took the principles in The Book That Started It All and applied them vigorously in our marriage and taught them to other couples.
Growth in the Christian life and therefore the Christian marriage requires action. Nothing of consequence will happen unless we act. We must certainly lead with prayer and seeking and in our spirit we must frequently quiet ourselves and follow the admonition to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). But don’t make the mistake of using these truths as excuses for procrastination or laziness. Waiting on the Lord means SERVING the Lord and service is action. Again, nothing of consequence will happen unless we act, and more specifically unless we act in concert with the will of God and in His Holy Spirit.
Here is the point. God provides a call, or direction, or opportunities, but it is OUR responsibility to follow the call, or accept the direction or grab the opportunity. God gives promises with conditions and it’s our decision whether or not to do our part. If we do then we will truly have the “abundant life” that Jesus promised in John 10:10.
Love you all!