“My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17).
From time to time as I go about the course of everyday life, God reinforces one of His timeless truths. This happened last weekend as I pitched in to help our guys clear the ice and snow on the church drive to make things safe for Sunday worshippers. An ice and snow storm had dumped several inches of frozen stuff on us. The temperature didn’t get above freezing for four days. By the end of the week parts of our parking lot could have served as a backup practice rink for the Dallas Stars hockey team.
As the sun came out on Saturday most of the ice on our parking lots began to quickly melt. There were, however, places that didn’t get direct sunlight. In those places the ice remained cold, hard, and stubborn. It took several men several hours with shovels, picks, even blow torches, to slowly chisel away at the thick layer of ice.
As the day wore on rays of sunlight began to penetrate in places it hadn’t shone before. With the heat of direct sunlight the snow and ice dramatically softened. Our efforts to shovel and scrape the ice away were vastly more successful. Without the help of the sun, our efforts were slow, tedious, sometimes outright impossible.
This illustrates a powerful spiritual principle. There are some things that we want to see happen that seem to be so slow and tedious in coming: the salvation of friend, the mending of a marriage, overcoming an addiction, digging out of debt. When we attempt to overcome these obstacles in our own strength it’s like chiseling away at a thick sheet of ice. Any progress we see is slow and tiresome.
But amazing things happen when the heat of the Son begins to shine into those hard, hopeless situations. The impossible becomes possible. Hard, calloused hearts are softened. Bitter attitudes melt. Stubborn obstacles are cleared away. When God works, things happen that we could never accomplish on our own.
It’s not that we stop working; we simply begin working with God. Jesus understood this. He lived His life everyday in the reality that His Father was working. So Jesus worked with the Father. The same principle applies to us. We should face every situation with the knowledge that God is working. We should look for the places where the Son is shining and work there. It is in those situations that our work will be most fruitful.
Our most important work then becomes the work of prayer … not our only work, but our most crucial work. By prayer our hearts are sensitized to the movement of the Holy Spirit in and around us. By prayer we sense the leading of God as to where we are to work. And for some mysterious reason, God has allowed Himself to be moved by our praying. For example, when the Son begins to shine on and soften the hard heart of a non-believer it is often in answer to the prayer of believers.
It’s not that we never shovel where the Son isn’t yet shining. Sometimes God gives us that difficult work to do. But the principle that guided Jesus should continuously guide us. Work where and when the Father is working. Watch as amazing things happen.