“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving”
This can speak of self-awareness, a guarding of one’s thoughts and perspectives – guarding for truth, for humility, for trust.
It can also speak of faith. A watchful expectation that God will come through, that He will hear.
The latter is what draws me this morning.
We continue in prayer, and this persistence is to be driven by our faith, not by our fear. (Though when we fear, we also should pray).
Am I expectantly watchful in prayer? With thanksgiving?
I’ll be honest – I’m struggling with that today. There’s a lingering fear, a bothersome question, that I can’t seem to shake.
I’m telling myself that my God will come through. Reminding myself of how clearly He’s been in these details. Trying to be thankful for it all.
But it’s just not penetrating.
That said, God led me to this verse in Colossians. He highlighted it. So there must be something He wants to unfold here for me – and for you.
To continue steadfastly in prayer, driven by faith not fear. To be watchful in it, ready to see Him come through. And to weave thanksgiving into that watchfulness.
Thanksgiving not only for what He has done and will do, but thanksgiving that I even get to watch Him here. That I get to be a part of this thing that I can’t control.
What I tend to get caught up on is the plan. I like to have a plan. To at least know what the plan is. When there are elements that I can’t resolve in this moment to determine how to get from Point A to Point B, it’s like I get stuck.
So the question becomes – how do I get to the point of being OK with not knowing yet how the plan will fit together?
And why do I feel like I need to know so badly?
…My mind is drawn to God’s words in the book of Job. Which is a bit intimidating, because He responds quite forcefully to the extent of Job’s questions. But as I began to read them, the Spirit relaying them to my heart had a softer tone. Still one of power and unequivocal truth, but compassion. It’s a long segment of the passage, but I hope you’ll stick with me here.
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together,
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?
It is changed like clay under the seal,
and its features stand out like a garment.
From the wicked their light is withheld,
and their uplifted arm is broken….
Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
and a way for the thunderbolt,
to bring rain on a land where no man is,
on the desert in which there is no man,
to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
and to make the ground sprout with grass?”
I’ll lay out what I’m seeing here. Our God knows how to fit things together. He is the author of all wisdom, and He put all of creation in its place. The foundations of the earth and all its measurements. The boundaries and limitations of the sea. The beauty and constancy of the sun.
I also see His faithfulness to those who are His. Because He declares that the light of dawn is withheld from the wicked. So there are blessings He specifically holds for His people. Goodness and light that are held intentionally for them.
And I see His ability to plan and to accomplish, in His division of channels for rain to go precisely where He determines it should. It reflects Revelation 3:7, in which Jesus declares that He “has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.” There is decisiveness here. Doors open and close at His will. Plans fit together because He determines that they will do so.
We may plan our way, but it is God who establishes our steps (Proverbs 16:9). Our plans, if we are able to spell them out, only take us so far. God must see them through. And the thing is, the plan God will see through is His own. So yes, it is good to have direction and to set out goals and objectives for what God calls us to, but ultimately it is His plan that prevails and His steps that will set our journey and bring us into His purposes.
I won’t lie; I can still feel the battle within me. Still wanting the plan, still wanting to see how it will all fit together. But “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). So I need to bolster my hope. And build my assurance in who my God is – because He is my hope, and He is sure. I need to believe resolutely that He will come through. Particularly when my heart starts to get nervous and my mind wants to sort everything out.
“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him” (Isaiah 51:1-2).
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Laying aside every weight. That’s what fear does, does it not? It weighs us down. It slows our steps and can even paralyze us from any action. Let us throw it off and run the race before us with endurance. Looking always to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Because He is with us, and He will not fail us. Our God will fit everything together, if we will just keep running. Keep trusting. Keep praying, and keep watching with thankfulness for what He is already putting in place. Believing that He will establish our steps and put them right where they need to go. Even if it isn’t where we expected.