Authored by Mara Hodler
I was not born a citizen of the United States of America. Earning the right to be here was a process. I had to fill out piles of forms, spend hours on the phone with officials, pay a hefty sum, get fingerprinted, and have an interview to determine if I indeed met the requirements to earn residency. And, yay, I did! I met the requirements so well that the interviewer took one look at me and decided it was his privilege to grant me permanent residency. That was a happy day!
Now I can come and go freely. When I get on an airplane to another country, I don’t have to worry if I will be allowed to return. I can pull out my little green card and prove that I have the right to be here. This means a lot to me, because there was a time when I did not have a green card. There was even a time when I was trying to enter the U.S. and was turned away. Even though I had an American husband and American kids, I wasn’t allowed into the country.
So what did I do? Well, it took a while, but I went through all the steps required to immigrate. I had to spend hours on the phone with immigration officials as they walked me through the complicated forms and requirements. On the day of my interview, I was a little nervous. What if, for some random reason, they denied my application? But as I thought and prayed about it, I realized that I had done all the work. I had met all of the requirements for immigration, and there was no reason that they should or even could deny my application. I could be confident as I went for the interview because I had done my part.
I certainly prayed for God to allow my application to be granted, but I wasn’t praying for a miracle. It would have been very foolish of me if, throughout the immigration process, I just planned for a miracle and didn’t diligently do my work, and then right at the time of the interview begged the Lord for a miracle.
Maybe it’s because I’m a mom and I know what it’s like to have my little people come at me all day with requests like, “Can you get me a cup of water?” Yes, I could get you a cup of water, but you are seven years old and could also get yourself a cup of water.
I think the Lord might sometimes feel like that when we pray for things that we are perfectly able to take care of ourselves. I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask for His protection and blessing. On the day of my interview, I sure did pray for the Lord’s blessing, but I didn’t ask Him to do the part that He was expecting me to do.
My seven-year-old might need advice on how to not pinch her fingers in the cupboard door or how to clean up after herself, but she is definitely able to get herself a cup of water! And I expect her to! If she was sick or hurt, that would be a different story, but in general, I expect her to get up from whatever she’s doing and get the things that she needs for herself.
The Bible is full of examples of God expecting people to take care of the things they were able to manage before He did what they could not do. God saved Noah and his family from the flood, but He expected Noah to build the ark. God miraculously provided manna for the children of Israel, but He expected them to gather it up each day. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, but He told the crowd to roll away the stone.
Just think about it. Jesus was about to perform an amazing miracle. He was going to raise a man who had been dead three days. He could have easily tacked on “Make Lazarus walk through the stone,” or “Cause the stone to shatter” to this already amazing miracle. But that’s not how He rolled. He asked them to do the part they could do.
When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, He probably could have done it without the “starter kit” of five loaves and two fishes. He also probably could have made the food appear in the hands of each person in the crowd rather than having His disciples pass the food out. But again, He expected each one to do their part. When you’ve done your part, you can have expectation and confidence that God will do His part in accordance with His will.
In each of these instances from the Bible, I am referring to a situation where a miracle was actually needed. I am not speaking about a situation where someone simply needs to do what is required to produce the desired results. There are also times where you don’t need a miracle. You just need to do some work. “It’s on you,” so to speak.
If you have an essay due, you don’t need a miracle to get it done. What you need to do is sit down, do your research, and write your essay. You can pray for the Lord to inspire you with ideas and new approaches, or to guide you and help you stay focused. If you live in a country that suffers from regular power cuts, you could pray for the electricity to stay on so that you can get your work finished on time, but you do not need any miraculous intervention to get your essay written, and you probably will not get any! If you sit down at your computer for a few hours and focus on your essay, hopefully you will produce an essay. You can do that! If you choose not to sit down and do the work, you usually will not be able to “pray down” a miraculous essay the morning your paper is due. God is not your magic bail-out genie.
My point in all of this isn’t, “Don’t pray!” It’s rather, “Don’t expect God to do what you are responsible to take care of!” And if you have done what you should, have the confidence to proceed. Just like the citizens of a country have certain rights, so do we who claim heavenly citizenship. As we fulfill the requirements, we earn the rights and privileges. And the privileges of a child of God are off the charts. Just saying.
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2015 by The Family International