How Are You Limiting God’s Work in Your Life?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing."

Luke 13:31

Please don’t be offended by the title of this reflection. I don’t mean to suggest that you are not eager for God to work his will in your life. But, I do believe that all of us limit God’s work in our lives to some extent. Though we are forgiven in Christ and though we have begun to experience the new creation through him, there are times when we resist God’s transforming work in us. Ultimately, God will prevail and we will be everything he has intended for us to be. But, in the meanwhile, we can say “no” to God and, amazingly, he allows this for a season.

In our passage from Luke today, Jesus laments over Jerusalem, using language from the Old Testament that referred to the Lord. In Deuteronomy 32, for example, there is a celebration of God’s salvation of Israel from bondage in Egypt. In this context, God is pictured as a mother eagle: “Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them up and carried them safely on his pinions” (32:11). Jesus expresses his divine grief over Jerusalem: “How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me” (13:34). Jerusalem would not accept the message of Jesus, that which would protect her children from the destruction that is coming.

I’m struck by the last phrase of Luke 13:34: “but you wouldn’t let me.” The Greek original reads more literally, “but you were not willing” (kai ouk ethelesate). Jesus was unable to do what he wished with the people of Jerusalem because they resisted him and his ministry. Thus, rather than obliterate their will and impose his upon them, Jesus allowed them to reap the devastating fruit of their choices.

Many times God could have shared a similar lament about me, something like: “O Mark. How I have wanted to bless you and use you in the work of my kingdom, but you wouldn’t let me.” What keeps me from being open to God’s work in and through me? Sin is the most prominent and obvious source of resistance. In me, sin often takes the form of fear. If I really allow God to guide my life, what if I don’t like the results? Will God really be there to help me? If I step out in bold faith, what if I look foolish? My desire for a safe, predictable, comfortable life can close my heart to God’s transforming work.

Yet, as I grow in faith, God continues to woo me, to reassure me, and to give me greater confidence in him. How grateful I am that God has not given up on me! In fact, he will continue his good work in my life until his is finished (Phil 1:6). Thanks be to God!

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: So, are you limiting God’s work in and through you? How? What helps you to trust God more, to be more open to his will? If you were to trust God more today, what difference might this make in how you live and work?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, I do wonder how often you have lamented my resistance to you and your will. It grieves me to think about this, but I’m sure there are times when I have not been willing to follow you and you have accepted my closed heart. Forgive me, Lord!

Thank you, though, for all the ways you woo me. Thank you for your patience and mercy. Thank you for showing me that obeying you is the very best way to live.

Help me, I pray, to be fertile ground for the seed of your kingdom. Amen.