Lack of Preparation is Not a Kingdom Value (but neither is OCD)

Erik Cooper —  June 8, 2011 — 1 Comment

Letting God lead is not the same as letting things happen. Lack of preparation is not a Kingdom value.

These two sentences explain a lot about me. How I’m wired. Driven. What formulates the root expression of my life

I blame my mother (in a good way, I guess). I often remember her quietly powerful voice cautioning me, “don’t ask God for help if you don’t do your part,” as I poured over the notes for a Science test or rehearsed for a piano recital.

Lots of truth there. Salvation is a free gift, but God still expects things from us. Following Jesus doesn’t mean we’re effortlessly chilling in the back of a stretch limo while He’s negotiating the I-9 (Jesus, take the wheel).

  • God gave Israel the promised land, then told them to physically go and take it. (Joshua 18:3)
  • Solomon exalts diligence and hard work. (Proverbs 10:4 amongst plenty of other places)
  • Heck, Jesus himself chastised the servant who buried the Master’s money in the sand instead of taking a risk and doing something with it. (Luke 19:20-26)

So where does godly effort morph into obsessive control? Where does making things happen begin stepping on the sovereignty of God? When does diligence begin to necessitate medication?

More good questions. More good tension (which is where I find the truth has usually taken up residence).

In two short days, 22 CityCom’ers will board a plane for La Ceiba, Honduras.  One of those team members is a complete surprise. Following the unfortunate fallout of an automobile accident (all healing well), one plane ticket lost it’s owner just three short weeks before our departure date.

In discussing potential last minute replacements, we tossed around a smorgasbord of different names. We strategized. We white-boarded. Who was the best candidate to fill that empty slot? We had some ideas. Some good ones. We were ready to make things happen.

And then we just stopped.

“Let’s wait. Let’s sleep on it. Let’s ask God to say something here that we simply can’t deny.”

And so we did. And wouldn’t you know?

At 9AM the next morning, I got an unexpected phone call. We love our friend Steve, but he wasn’t on our short list (he wasn’t on any list). He hadn’t even crossed our minds. But two vivid dreams of boarding a plane to Honduras gave Steve and his wife the courage to call and ask if there was somehow an open slot for this trip that had been full for months.

In one moment, God did more than hours of frantic phone calls and wise “strategery” could have ever accomplished.

Because we asked.

Because we waited.

Because we listened.

This was one great lesson for me. We humans are undeniably good at justifying our cowardice with inaction. But we’ve also mastered the art of creating momentum around our own ideas. If we’re really talented, we can even attach God to them for further marketing appeal.

But now we’re going to work. We’re doing our part. We’re making things happen. All with the knowledge that God has undeniably spoken, and our diligence is simply a response to what He’s already at work doing. That’s the kind of effort I want to get behind.

How do you balance the tension between letting God work and doing your work?

One response to Lack of Preparation is Not a Kingdom Value (but neither is OCD)

  1. Oh, I love this!

    I am in Tennessee, and my Sabbatical is nearing an end, so I have had a lot of time to think, talk to, and listen to God! I am listening to the bible on cd, and I keep noticing how Jesus “was aware”. Certainly, the Bible says a lot of things, but that keeps sticking out to me. Someitmes when I read the Bible, instead of hear it, I don’t really notice the words and phrases that I do when I sit back and just listen.

    Over and over….Jesus “was aware”, “was aware”….So my prayer in this time is that by stepping away from my normal “routines”, I will become more “aware!”.

    And I am. So much more aware of myself. I was driving yesterday and realized that I have a hard time relaxing even with God. (It’s not like I am constantly tightly wound in a way that is visible, but internally, even from age 2, I’ve been extremely “responsible”. (Really, what two year old tells her Aunt at the airport lounge “I think you should put that beer down because otherwise, we may miss our plane…”) Kind of thinking that if I drop the ball, everything is going to shatter into a bunch of little pieces. Because I don’t want that to happen, I simply will not drop that ball. I will die before I stop trying…:)

    So I prayed in my car yesterday. I prayed that I would STOP feeling like I have to make the words God is speaking over my life happen. He pours them there, and he looks after them, to bring them to pass, and all I need to do is obey. Certainly, I can ponder them in my heart, like Mary did about Jesus, and take actions that line up with those words, but I don’t have to feel like it’s up to me to take those words, and make them happen! There is a fine line between being conscientious and completely overburdened, which is definately not the light burden Jesus speaks of carrying!

    I totally disagree with the carefree attitude of “oh, it will all work out” (with the tone of acceptance for lack of planning, knowledge, and preparation), but have discovered that even with a lot of planning, wisdom, and prep, it doesn’t always work out how you figure and you have to wing it anyway!

    Here’s a big CHEERS to entering God’s rest, learning to be his child, and letting HIM be who He is and what I am NOT.

    Thanks for writing about such common struggles!!

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