David Livingston, the legendary missionary to Africa, was a man who understood that some jobs God asks us to do aren’t for the faint of heart. On the subject of Livingstone’s work in Africa, one man wrote him, “I would like to join you. Is there an easy way to get to where you are?” Livingston wrote back, “I don’t want a man to join me who is looking for an easy way. I want a man to join me who will make his own way if he has to.”
When Christians discuss problems that need to be handled, the conversations often end with something along the lines of, “Let’s just pray about it and ask God to take care of it.” While I am in no way downplaying the importance of prayer or the possibility of God getting personally involved in a situation, it has been my experience that He usually solves a problem by raising up a man or a woman to do the solving. Even better than my experience, scripture teaches this same truth. For every Bible story in which God takes matters into His own hands to personally solve a problem, there are dozens of stories in which He works through human beings to solve one.
But how do you know when God is singling you out to be the human vessel through which He solves a problem? Allow me to offer a basic list of how the process works. At least this is how it has worked in my life.
- You are brought face to face with the problem. The fact is, there are problems here, there, and everywhere but you don’t think about them because they don’t affect you. Only when one gets in your personal wheelhouse do you start searching for the solution to it.
- You realize that no one else is going to do anything about the problem. Your first indicator that God is wading you into the battle is when you find yourself admitting that no one else is going to do anything.
- You begin to feel a growing burden deep down inside you that calls you to duty. If that burden is truly from God, it will only increase with the passing of time and the continuation of the problem.
- You hatch out a plan of action, at least the first step of one. Since your second step will probably be dependent upon how others react to your first step, you might not be able to hatch out the entire plan all at once. But rest assured that God will give you a unique, specific battle plan.
- You get personally involved with solving the problem by taking the first step of your plan of action. Now you are in the arena, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself fighting in there alone. Remember, the problem wouldn’t still be there for you to encounter if a slew of people had taken it on before you.
Of course, it should be assumed that you are praying, staying humble, and continuing to seek God’s will throughout this entire process. You don’t envision yourself as the fast-draw sheriff who is riding into town to clean up the mess. Instead, you envision yourself as the humble (even reluctant) servant of God who is simply trying to be the vessel through which God gets the necessary work done. The moment you start getting puffed up about what you are doing, you run the risk of acting from your own logic and fleshly instincts.
And will the job that God is calling you to do be hard? Yes! Again, if it was easy, someone would have done it before you got there. As David Livingston so graphically pointed out, you will most likely have to make your own way by hacking out a new trail through the thick underbrush. But rest assured that God will help you with that hacking as long as you are hacking out the trail that is pleasing to Him. So, don’t be afraid to take on the problem, and don’t shy away from allowing Him to do a much needed worked through you.