When we want something to happen but it doesn’t, sometimes we say “God is sitting this one out”. But is it really true that God is sitting it out? Is it ever true?
When we don’t get what we want, it’s east to blame it on God. We just claim that God is sitting it out. It’s easier that saying that maybe it’s our fault.
I was watching an NCIS rerun this morning with my coffee and fig bar. Assuming you either know the show or can Google the characters if you want to, here’s what happened. Mike Franks wanted Gibbs to help him smuggle refugees from Afghanistan into the U.S. Gibbs refused, telling Mike Franks, “You’re not God”. Mike Franks responds, “God is sitting this one out.”
But really, who was sitting it out? I’d say it wasn’t God sitting it out – it was Gibbs. As it turns out, a few years later, Gibbs has a second chance, and chooses to get involved.
By “our”, I don’t always mean just the one person saying it’s God’s fault. Maybe “our” is one person. But maybe “our” is a group of people too.
Is God sitting this one out – or is He waiting for something?
For instance, what about this from Exodus?
Ex 6:6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’ ”
In this passage, God clearly has a plan. But it’s not going to happen right away. We know this because of the phrase – Then you will know that I am the LORD your God. There are other things that need to happen first.
the Israelites get in the way
Unfortunately, God’s own people get in the way of His plan for them.
Ex 6:9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.
God was ready to get His plan going. But the people weren’t. Let me ask – is God sitting this one out, or is He waiting for His people to be ready for Him to act?
And it’s not like this was the first time something like this happened.
Ex 3:7 The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
The Israelites were in this condition because they had turned away from God.
Again, the question arises – is God sitting this one out, or did He leave the people alone because that’s what they wanted?
what about today? Is God sitting this one out?
Today, we have less reason than ever to claim that “God is sitting it out”. Why not? Because of this –
The Great Commission
Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Yes – Jesus told us to spread the word. So, if something doesn’t happen we cannot claim, “God is sitting it out”. If something doesn’t happen, it’s because we, like Gibbs (the first time) sat it out. It’s because we chose not to act.
or, we acted on our own
Actually, we also need to remember Jesus said, And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. There’s an implication in that statement. We aren’t to act alone. While Jesus told us to act in His place, He also told us to remember that He is with us.
Jn 14:12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
In one way, this is very similar to the example from Exodus. Jesus will act, but only after we ask. It’s not a case of “God is sitting it out”. It’s a case of God is waiting for us to do the very thing Jesus told us to do: ask in His name.
And then, Jesus will act through us. Even there, we need to do something in order for God to work through us.
or maybe we didn’t act at all
The simple reality is that God cannot work through us, if we choose to sit it out. Maybe it’s action, like we’ve seen so far. But maybe it’s as simple as live our life – for God.
Mt 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
That’s not hard. Most of the time. Depending on where you live, it can be very risky. And yet, God will work through us, even by this simple act.
So take your light. Put it someplace where it shows. And let God work through you.