Another big question for week #4 of our “PAUSE: Make space for God” series! For this topic I’ve chosen to focus on the words “cooperation” and “respond”.
Although the infinite God of heaven and earth has many wonderful plans for us, He cannot bring those plans to fruition without our cooperation and response: “Every person on his part ought to draw near to God; and as far as man does draw near, God on His part enters into him.” (Swedenborg – True Christian Religion 126)
One of the reasons that I love this idea is because it puts the ball squarely in our court. The Lord is doing everything that He can and everything that He needs to do in order to lead us forward in our lives. The only question is, are we willing to cooperate with Him? Many times we will make excuses for why we can’t move forward, resolve a problem, or shun a certain evil. And yet, every moment of every day the Lord is giving us everything that we need to make changes and to move forward….IF we choose to. I was reflecting the other day on the fact that a huge part of faith is recognizing that you need to cooperating with the Lord AND that He is providing you with everything you need in order to do this. “Give us this day our daily bread,” we say in the Lord’s prayer. Do I really believe that the Lord is providing me right now, in this moment, with EVERYTHING that I need to move forward? Imagine how different my life would be and the things I could accomplish if I really did believed this!: “Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.” (Mark 11:23)
One of the great stories in the New Testament to reflect on when it comes to our need to cooperate with the Lord and believe that He gives us what we need to move foward, is the story of the sick man and the pool of Bethesda (John 5). Occasionally an angel would come and stir the waters of this pool. The first person to get into the waters after they had been stirred would be healed of their sickness. One man had been sitting by this pool for thirty-eight years! He couldn’t walk, and every time the waters were stirred someone else got in before him. When the Lord found him by this pool He didn’t seem to have much sympathy for the predicament the sick man was in. The Lord simply asked the sick man, “Do you want to be made well?” And then told him to, “Arise, take up your cot and walk.” This is a great story because it encourages us all to reflect on why we may not be allowing the Lord to “heal” us of our many spiritual ailments. What habits have we gotten into and what excuses are we making for not getting into that pool and for not taking up our cot and walking? I’d encourage you to listen to the sermon I gave on this story last Sunday. It asks what I find to be a very interesting question – Why might you NOT be allowing the Lord to heal you? http://www.newchurchaudio.org/event/20223.html
So knowing that the Lord is always doing His part, perhaps a good question to ask yourself this week is, what do I need to do to better cooperate with the Lord? Do I really believe that the Lord has given me every tool I need to move forward? If you get a chance, I would be very interested to hear your thoughts about ways and reasons why we don’t always cooperate with the Lord. When what the Lord is offering us is so wonderful, why do we end up just sitting by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years, instead of getting up and walking?