A missionary who spoke at our church once told us, “When trying to do the work God has called you to, pray knowing it’s all up to God, but work as hard as you would if it were all up to you.” I have always found that concept challenging to get my head around, but it has lingered in my mind since that day at least six years ago when I heard it preached.
As I was reading some Amazon reviews of Christian speculative fiction, I found it interesting that repeatedly, if reviewers were going to complain about something, it was often that the god of the books in question intervened and conveniently solved the characters’ problems. This brings me to a question about my own writing: how can I depict the way God steps in as the only solution to our problems when they become bigger than mortal shoulders can bear, without making the God-driven solutions to the issue seem too “convenient?”
From what I can glean, readers want the characters to triumph. They want the story to pose crises for the good guys, and they want the characters to prevail, but they feel cheated if that solution comes from a plea of desperation that God meets with a divine solution. I wonder, is this visceral reaction just the readers’ sin nature speaking? In our flesh, we all want to dominate…from the beginning, Satan has always known the hope of being like God has been the quick route to our souls. After all, who would know such a thing better than the very entity who fell prey to the same pitfall?
But as Christians, I think we have a tendency to err on the opposite side of the spectrum. Because we don’t want to pull the reins out of God’s hands (so to speak…as if we could really do such a thing) we sit back and passively “wait on the Lord.” The stage I’m in right now, professionally, personally, creatively, seems to bear the message that while God ordains the events that occur from day to day in this world, he also intends for me to be an active participant in the actual manifestation of those events. I’m reminded of Ephesians 2:10, which tells us God made us, and when he fashioned each of us, he had a plan for what we’d be good for accomplishing in his creation.
He made us more like rowboats than rubber duckies.
Through the tools and talents God has given each of us, he expects us to labor through the current of life, upstream when necessary, not just bob along with plastic Christian smiles on our faces. Doing what God wants us to do is likely to cause a few blisters on our spiritual hands and leave us a little sore at times. But I’m learning a little discomfort doesn’t mean I’m not doing what God wants me to do. I’m beginning to see the true indicator of whether I’m doing what God would have me do is not the ease of the labor, but the fruit it bears at the end.
So what about you? How do you walk the line between allowing God to work and being the worker that brings his earthly best to fruition?