Waiting or working for miracles?

Now that I’ve heard and accepted my body‘s message, the challenge is finding a way to live into that decision in a way that is respectful to everyone involved, including those who are depending on me. As I think about ways to do this, I keep finding myself pondering an age-old (for me) question about handling seemingly impossible situations: Is it appropriate to just “turn it over to God” (as is so often urged) and wait for God to create a miraculous solution, or is it more appropriate to move into action searching for possible solutions and pray that God works a miracle in the doing?

Those who would urge the former would suggest that it is in the waiting that we demonstrate our trust and that our attempts to take action on our own constitute a lack of trust in God’s ability to act. Those who would urge the latter would suggest that it is in taking action that we put ourselves in the path of God’s movement making ourselves available for whatever plans God may have. And besides, it seems incredibly lazy for me to sit back and do absolutely nothing to attempt to solve a problem that I created and expect someone else to fix it for me.

On a practical level, my tendency seems to fall on the side of the latter approach. I do what I can and pray for help along the way. I am too aware of my Persephone-like tendencies of looking for someone to come save me to trust my own motives in choosing to wait passively for God to fix things. What may look like trust in divine providence may really just be my own fear of dealing with the hard stuff in life.

On the other hand, as I’ve considered this issue this evening, a memory of a time when God did rather unexpectedly come to my rescue many years ago surfaced out of the long-forgotten depths of my mind.

I was in college, and money was very tight. I remember sitting one night with the checkbook trying to figure out how I was going to pay all of the bills for the month. We had just enough money in the account to pay all the bills with nothing left over for food. No matter how I tried to make the numbers work out differently, it always came out the same. We could pay all the bills or we could eat, but not both. Finally, in frustration I laid it aside and announced that God was just going to have to fix it because I couldn’t.

Imagine my shock when the manager of the local grocery store called me the next evening to tell me that someone from the church had anonymously bought us $100 in gift certificates and asking us to come pick them up from the store. (This was in the days before the Internet was in common usage and gift cards were unheard of.) I had told no one about the challenge I was facing, but out of the blue someone had provided for the exact need that I had identified. And back then, when I often fed two people on $10 a week, $100 was an overflowing abundance!

I found out many years later that the someone who bought the gift certificates was my mother, who lived several states away and from whom I was so estranged that she would have had no way of knowing my circumstances at the time. It was the one and only time she ever did such a thing. She later said she simply got it in her head that she needed to do it and just happened to call the one grocery store that I normally shopped at.

So I know that sometimes miracles happen without my action in ways that I never would have dreamed up on my own. I also know that most of the time taking action seems to put me in a place that makes grace more likely to show up.

We’ll see what happens in this case …

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  1. Pingback: When the answer is ‘Yes, both/and’ | Journey Through the Chrysalis

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