March 13, 2016

Genesis 25:21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.

This verse would be easy to pass over, but it expresses a very important principle: if you pray for something, you had better be willing to be part of the answer to that prayer. It would have done Isaac no good to pray for his wife if he hadn’t been willing to sleep with her. The other side of that is that he had doubtless been sleeping with her, but she had been unable to get pregnant until he prayed. That’s one of the mysteries of prayer: the same activity can have very different results depending on whether we pray. There are people who work hard for the Lord, as they see it, but fail to pray, and there are people who pray and then expect the Lord to drop things in their lap without further effort. Both are mistaken. We can do nothing of any consequence without God, but He generally expects our full participation in what He does. That can be a difficult balance at times. The Japanese word for “confidence” is written with characters that mean “self belief.” In a way that is very appropriate, because you aren’t likely to venture out to try things if you don’t believe you have a chance at success. However, that clearly leaves God out of the equation. It is far better to say, “My God can do anything, and He can even use me to do it!” That’s why in Japanese I prefer to use a word that is translated “assurance,” and is written with characters that mean “definite/certain belief.” We need to believe in ourselves only to the extent that we believe God can use us. Ultimately, what we accomplish is not because of how wonderful or capable we are, but because of God’s grace toward us. We need to believe and trust that grace enough to apply ourselves fully as God’s instruments.

I don’t think my parents ever told me, “You can’t do that,” as in, “You don’t have the ability.” They did tell me, “You should not do that,” or, “You must not do that,” or even, “That would be illegal!” As a result, I attempted, and found I could do, a very wide variety of things, to the amazement of many of my Japanese friends. However, since a lot of things came fairly easily to me, my work ethic and follow-through weren’t the best and I have wasted a lot of time in my life. From my current perspective I can see that the best course is first to pray about what God wants me to attempt, then pray about how He wants me to go about it, and then pray for persistence and energy so that I will carry it through to the end. Whether it is possible or not should never be an issue; nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1:37) However, I am rarely if ever to be passive, but give myself fully as God’s instrument to accomplish His will.

Father, thank You for this reminder. That second book certainly comes to mind! I’ve had a lot of distractions, certainly, but excuses don’t get the job done. I ask for wisdom and discipline so that I will do the necessary “grunt work,” taking the time to listen, write, and then polish the output, so that what You want to say through me may be expressed as You desire, to reach everyone You intend, to accomplish in and through them Your will, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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