It never works to ask people to do for us what only God can do. It never works to wait for God to do what he has clearly called us to do.
Here’s the principle: we can’t look horizontally for what we will get only vertically, and we can’t wait vertically for what we have been called to do horizontally. We all get these two confused again and again. Many a wife believes it is her husband’s duty to bring her happiness. Such a woman is actually acting as if it’s okay to put her inner sense of well-being in the hands of another human being. In the same fashion, men put much of their identity in how the world sees their family.
What are some areas that you struggle with horizontally? What are some examples of what you have waited for God to do, that he has called you to do?
The person next to you is never a safe source of your happiness, because that person is flawed and will inevitably fail you in some way. It is good to have close friends and to work together, but that should not be our only source. Only God is ever a safe keeper of the security, peace, and rest of your soul.
Here is the bottom line— earth will never be your savior. Earth was created to point you to the One who alone is able to give peace and rest to your searching heart. Yet today many people say they believe in God, but they shop horizontally for what can be found only vertically.
On the other hand, there are many people who give in to the temptation to do the opposite. They wait for God to do for them what he has clearly called and empowered them to do. There are many counseling sessions that have notated about many people who were dealing with fractured relationships say, “I’m just waiting for the Lord to reconcile our relationship.” You may have said that in your own relationships, or heard it directly from others. It sounds spiritual, but it is simply wrong.
23“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. – Matthew 5:23-24
In that scripture is it easy to skim over it but miss a very beneficial lesson. Yes, God cares around our relationships; yes, God does not want us to have anger, resentment and unforgiveness; but receive the whole message: God calls us to take action. He does not have us just sit and chill out and take care of issues for us. I would like to challenge you, the next time you hear that scripture, don’t focus so much on the “who do I have to forgive?”, but use the moment as a conviction: “Lord, what have you called me to do?”
There are examples all over the bible and in our lives where God could have made life so much easier by taking care of business, but he had different plans. When it came time for Israel to enter the Promised Land, God was going to part the waters of the Jordan River, but he commanded the priests to step into it. God was going to defeat Jericho, but he called his children to walk around it. God promises to provide, but he calls us to labor, pray, and give.
Do you have some other examples of where people had to engage and do their part in an act of God?
God alone has the power to save, but he calls us to witness, testify, proclaim, teach, live, and preach. You see, God not only determines outcomes, but he rules over the means by which those outcomes are realized. So the life of faith is all about rest and work. We rest in God’s presence and constant care (vertical), and we toil with our hands, busy at the work we have been commanded to do (horizontal). We rest in our work and work in our rest. At times, we work because we believe that God who is at work calls us to work. At others times, we rest from our work because we believe that the work that needs to be done only God can do. So rest and work and work and rest. It is the rhythm of the life of faith.
Problems or Opportunities?
It is a true condition that humanity faces. Life is not easy. There will be issues that come up; things that are unexpected; that don’t seem fair; others will hurt us; we will screw up and hurt ourself and others. But how do we react to these situations?
Are you a reporter? Or an action hero?