So I constantly find myself in a bit of a dilemma whenever it comes to certain life decisions. Part of me wants to get up, be proactive and go after what I want. The other part of me thinks it’s better to be still and wait on God to give me a word on what to do. So which part should I listen to?
This question, at first glance, may seem like it has a yes or no answer. But the answer is actually: both. Not a little bit of both, not half of one and half of the other, but each one in fullness.
Let’s say you have a business you’ve been running for a while, and it’s not doing as well as you hoped it would. So you cry to God for help (as you should), and you pray and fast for your business to pick up. But you don’t change your business strategy. As much as God loves us, as much as he guides us and protects us and with him we don’t have to do things in our own strength, God does not give us all the answers. That would be way too easy. We have to leap out in faith, trusting that if we get it wrong, he is still there to direct us.
I remember reading the book of Joshua last summer, and God really drew Joshua 3:1 to my attention: “Then Joshua rose early in the morning”. This was a man that God had promised prosperity. God told him that he will never leave him nor forsake him. God told him that no man shall be able to stand against him, ever (Joshua 1:1-9). Yet he still rose early in the morning to get to work. He didn’t say, “God’s got me” or “whatever’s meant to be will be” or even “I won’t have to fight for what’s mine.” He was disciplined, even with God’s promises. Because even when God makes promises to us, they are contingent on our obedience. God himself told Joshua to be careful to obey his laws (Joshua 1:7-8). He wouldn’t have said that if “whatever’s meant to be will be.”
You need to be honest with yourself and ask: am I really trusting God, or am I just being lazy? Or maybe you’re afraid. Afraid of what would happen if you push yourself. Afraid of failure. So you don’t do anything at all.
Let’s take a look at some examples of what it means to trust God and take action at the same time:
You may or may not know the story about Joseph in the book of Genesis. Long story short, Joseph had a promise from God in the form of dreams, that he would be in authority over his family. Before this actually happened, Joseph was sold into slavery, then he was sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. While in prison, one of his inmates had a dream that Joseph interpreted for him. The dream meant that he was going to be released from prison. Joseph told his inmate, “remember me when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house” (Genesis 40:14). He took action and told his inmate to help him get released from prison.
Joseph could have just sat there and said, “well God said I was going to be in authority anyway so I’m going to do nothing and just wait on God because whatever’s meant to be will be and at the right time I will be released.” Some of you may be thinking, “well, maybe he had given up on his promise from God and so decided to take matters into his own hands to ensure his release.” Verse 8 of that same chapter shows that Joseph’s faith in God hadn’t wavered. He gave God the glory to be able to interpret dreams, which meant that he still trusted God and believed in him. Joseph believed God’s promise to him, and he also took action.
Looking at the story of how Abraham’s servant went to find a wife for Isaac in Genesis 24 (you might want to read it if you haven’t before), we can see that God did not make himself explicitly known like how he did in other chapters in Genesis. Regardless, God’s involvement is extremely clear. In verse 48, Abraham’s servant gave glory to God for leading him to Rebekah. The commentary in my bible says, “God is not [always] about obvious intervention but about ordinary orchestration. God is in the details, God is in the moments. He may not seem to be doing anything, when he’s actually directing everything. God isn’t only in the spectacular, he is in the small.” (word in parenthesis added by me).
I love this story so much because the servant didn’t just pray and say, “God show me a sign of who Isaac’s wife should be”, neither did he take matters into his own hands and choose Isaac’s wife based on his own taste. He made a very specific request to God, acted on it, and saw his request happen. He trusted God, and he took action.
We can see the same thing happen in the book of Esther, which I won’t go through in this post.
My personal life
I’m currently considering going back to university to do a Master’s degree (something I told myself I’d never do). I’m a bit indecisive on which course to take, which uni, whether I should study part time for two years or full time for a year to finish earlier. I’ve been praying and fasting about this, asking God to give me wisdom and clarity on what to do. At the same time, I’ve been researching on different courses, looking at degree specifications and checking what degree would be right for me. I’m seeking God for wisdom, and I’m also taking action, trusting that God is guiding me and that he will lead me down the right path.
Sometimes you just have to make a decision in faith. The famous scripture Proverbs 3:5-6 talks about acknowledging God in all your ways. The NIV translation says, “in all your ways submit to him.” The NLT says, “seek his will in all you do.” We serve a God who cares about us, and is intentional about positioning us in places. However, God will never give us all the answers. He won’t make it easy for us, because an easy life is a lazy life and God didn’t create us to be lazy. Thankfully, he also will never leave us to go astray when we seek his will.
It’s very easy to be on either extreme. Sometimes we prefer to take things into our own hands, believing that we are blessed by our efforts alone and we leave God out of the equation, only calling on him when we feel we need to. This shows a lack of trust in either God’s ability or God’s timing (or both). Other times we do nothing but pray and fast, using the excuse that we are “waiting on God”, but really we’re either scared or we’re lazy.
With the first scenario, we can look at Psalm 127:1. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” If God is not ordering your footsteps, if he’s not acknowledged in your work and if his will isn’t sought after in your actions, you’re wasting your time. I mean, you can still gain worldly success, but you wouldn’t be who God wants you to be, and trust me that’s the best person to be (click here to read my post on living your best life).
With the second scenario, let’s take a look at the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. The man that was given one talent was too afraid to do anything with it, and so kept it for his master, thinking he had done his master a favour because at least he didn’t lose the talent right? This is how we are when we hide behind the mask of “waiting on God”, so we don’t move forward.
Yes, sometimes God does ask us to do nothing and wait on him to act. Sometimes there’s absolutely nothing we can do, things are completely out of our control and all we can do is pray and wait. But let’s make sure that that’s actually what God wants us to do, not just us being lazy. God tells us to ask. But he also tells us to seek and to knock (Matthew 7:7). Asking - praying to God. Seeking - taking action to look for things. Knocking - being assertive and stepping into things.
I really hope you were blessed by this post. Can you relate to anything that’s been said? Do you have any specific example of struggling to balance trusting God and taking action? Leave a comment below, let’s have a chat :)
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Peace, love and blessings,