Grab A Hoe

I remember talking with a friend once who was an out-of-work Pastor. In the course of conversation, I asked him if he had any hot job prospects in the works.

“Nope.”

I asked if he had any potential places of service.

“Nope.”

I asked if he had any resumes out in circulation.

“Nope.”

I asked him how in the world he expected to find a church if he wasn’t trying.

“God knows where I am. He’ll come and get me when He’s ready.”

I guess I can see some basis for that position, but not a whole lot of it. To me, it’s not unlike sitting at the table and saying “When God wants me to eat, He’ll put the food in front of me.” Meanwhile, you’re surrounded by cupboards full of food, while you’re starving, waiting for God to serve you.

There’s a point of balance here, and admittedly, a difficult one to strike at times. It can be a real challenge to find the balance point between God’s calling and our action. There’s nothing quite like that awful sensation when you realize that you’ve run out so far ahead of God that you’re not only not on the same page, you’re not even in the same book. Maintaining that balance can be a real challenge.

If you look through the book of Acts, you’ll find that Paul was faced with some of the same challenges:

(Acts 16:6-10 NNAS) They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; {7} and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; {8} and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. {9} A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” {10} When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

In this and other instances, God was able to “steer” Paul, and direct his travels. Paul would think it reasonable to head in a certain direction, but the Holy Spirit would say “no, go here instead.” Sometimes, it was a matter of elimination—there was only one direction left to go, so Paul went there. Other times, God’s direction was clear and definite. The common thread in all of these, however, is that we don’t see Paul sitting around saying “wake me up if you want me to do something, Lord.” Paul was a man in motion, who was focused on preaching the Gospel. Wherever he found himself, the Gospel was preached, because Paul was always on the lookout for opportunities to preach it.

I’m old enough ( just barely) to remember the day when only a few high-priced automobiles had power steering. Without the hydraulic assistance of power steering, it is very difficult to turn the wheels of a stationary car. In fact, the old trick is to start the car moving very slowly before trying to turn the wheels, because a moving car steers much easier than one that’s sitting still.

My friend had a basic problem. If God was trying to “steer” him, and direct his path, he couldn’t tell—because he was sitting still. That doesn’t mean that he needs to just take off full speed in any old direction, just to go there, but you can turn the wheels on a stationary vehicle all you want, and it will still be stationary.

Meaningful faith requires appropriate action—you can’t just “sit there.” As J. Vernon McGee once said: “Friends, when a man prays to God for a good crop of corn, God expects him to say Amen—with a hoe!”

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