Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
I really like the concept of miracles. As a writer for a Christian ministry, I find myself regularly penning articles and books about God’s desire to give “supernatural breakthroughs” to His people in their health, finances, emotions, and relationships.
It’s not entirely hype. I’ve seen breakthroughs like that, and they are awesome. We desperately need to see more of God’s supernatural power manifested in the American church today.
However, like almost any Biblical issue, there’s another side to the story. Yes, God wants to reveal His POWER, but He also wants us to understand that some miracles require a PROCESS.
A simple illustration is the conception, development, and birth of a baby. The whole thing is pretty miraculous, if you ask me. But God doesn’t do it all by Himself. He works through a man and woman through a set process that ultimately leads to a baby being born.
A great quote attributed to St. Augustine says, “Without God, we cannot. But without us, God will not.” In other words, we’re called to be what the apostle Paul described as “God’s partners” (NLT) or “God’s co-workers” (NIV). He will always be faithful to do HIS part, but the outcome of a matter is often dependent on us doing OUR part as well.
Farmers traditionally have had a keen appreciation for this partnership. Perhaps that’s why Jesus told several parables about sowing seeds and trusting God for a fruitful harvest (e.g., see Mark 4). I particularly love the parable about a man who scattered seed on the ground and then went to sleep (vs. 26-29). Isn’t that cool? The man knew he had faithfully done his part, and then he rested in the assurance that God would cause his seeds to “sprout and grow,” even though “he himself does not know how.”
The farmer in this story didn’t have to understand the entire biology of “how” his seeds would be turned into a crop. He simply knew the process would work, if he worked the process.
It’s fascinating to see that although this man’s harvest could be aptly described as a “miracle breakthrough,” it wasn’t instantaneous but gradual and progressive in nature: “first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.”
If you’re like me, you get frustrated by this. Why can’t the harvest come all at once, fully grown right from the beginning? While I’m sure some harvests DO arrive instantly, that’s surely not the norm. Almost always, we have to wait for our seeds to sprout, and then we have to wait some more until they come to maturity.
I’ve noticed that some people are so in love with the concept of the supernatural that they overlook their responsibility to plant any seeds. They haven’t witnessed to anyone, but they seem puzzled that no one is getting saved. Or they beg God to open the door for a new job, even though they haven’t gotten around to sending out their resume yet.
Other people are painstakingly trying to work life’s processes, but they are in desperate need of a supernatural touch from God to energize and multiply their well-intentioned seeds. They’ve forgotten that even after seeds have been planted and watered, GOD must be the one who makes them grow (1 Corinthians 3:6).
In order to reach maximum fruitfulness, we need both God’s power and His processes. The processes may not be glamorous, but they are a necessary part of receiving the Lord’s provision. Apart from Him we can accomplish nothing of lasting value, but as we abide in Him and apply His prescribed processes, we will surely bear much fruit (John 15:5).