For a long time, I have struggled with when I should act, versus when I should just sit back and prayerfully let God’s will play out. It’s a tough thing to know because I have always felt that if I could do something about my present situation, I should, even if it increased my risk or cost or decreased my joy or closeness to the Lord.
What I have come to realize is that the line should be drawn where we find that we are pressing too hard to make things work out as we imagined they should. This forcing of our will on a situation almost never works out as we planned and almost always limits the outcome. Why not sit back, do what is right each step of the way, pray for and about the situation, and let God deliver something that is incredibly more than we’ve ever imagined.
A really great example of this struggle between forcing our will verses working with God is the story of Moses in Exodus. Moses was born to a Levite family in Egypt during a time when Pharaoh was killing all Hebrew baby boys to limit the growth of the Isrealites that lived there. Because of this, Moses’ mother left him to be adopted by someone else. That someone else was Pharaoh’s daughter.
Because of his family, Moses grew up to be a powerful Egyptian but understood his Hebrew roots and wanted to help them. One day he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew man so Moses jumped in and ended up killing the Egyptian. Pharaoh found this out and tried to kill Moses, who flees Egypt to escape. Helping the Israelites with his own strength was a complete failure for Moses. Instead of looking to the Lord for help, he had tried his best to fix the situation and it failed with great consequences.
Moses ended up living in Midian for 40 years. He was 80 years old when the Lord approached him through a burning bush and instructed him to go back to Egypt and rescue the Israelites. Moses was very reluctant, but obeyed and begun to do it God’s way instead of his own. Moses went back to Egypt and tried to follow God’s instructions as closely as possible. By doing this, a very interesting thing happened.
33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.
– Exodus 12:33-36
By doing it God’s way, the people of Israel were actually asked to leave and on their way out they were given all of the riches of Egypt as well! This is what can happen when we stop trying to bend life to our own will and start making each step the “next right step” according to the promptings of God. Now God does not promise us riches or health or glory, but He does promise infinitely more than we expect as Paul says this in his Letter to the Ephesians.
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
– Ephesians 3:20-21