Through the centuries, Christians have been encouraged and mystified by the concept of God’s work in relation to our work as humans who bear His image. An extreme example is the mindset that William Carey encountered when he shared with a group of ministers the need to take the Gospel to the heathen. One minister told him, "Young man, sit down! You are an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he'll do it without consulting you or me."
Exodus 14 gives us insight on the issue of God’s part in relation to our part. The Israelites were trapped, with the Red Sea before them and the army of the world's superpower behind. Then God told Moses something quite intriguing:
“As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it…
“As for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh...
“Then the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.”
Exodus 14:16-18 (NASU, emphasis added)
Moses was made in God’s likeness, so of course he had a job to do–and a God-sized job at that–to divide the Red Sea! Moses was so powerless to accomplish that but he had already learned the lesson of doing things God’s way with His tools (ie. a staff).
And what job did God specify only for Himself? The job of working in the heart of humans. Who, in their right mind–after those ten terrible plagues–would dare go into a sea with walls of water on the left and right (v. 22)? Yet God did an amazing miracle in their hearts.
God did two types of miracles here. He worked a miracle in the natural realm of creation–the dividing of the sea was Moses’ work. And yet we know that even this could only be done by God’s presence and power, symbolized by the staff.
God also worked a miracle in the spiritual, unseen realm, and this was done directly by the hand of God. He did the work of changing hearts (this time a hardening). This work in the unseen realm of the human heart was actually the greater work and, I feel, brings most glory to Him.
How does this apply to us in DNI today? We have a part to do. We must rely on the Lord’s presence and power. But like Moses' staff, our tools look very ordinary. Two of our tools are prayer (includes abiding in His presence) and sharing the truth about Jesus with people.
As we use these tools, the Lord will work miracles in the natural realm. He may heal sickness, give special confirmations through circumstances, and even deliver from demonic powers. But these are “lesser” miracles. Do not set your heart on them. As for the Lord, His special part is to change the hearts of humans. And in the New Covenant we find amazing stories of how He softens and opens hearts in repentance. This is the greater work. Set your heart and soul to see hearts changed into Jesus’ likeness!
As we do our part with God’s seemingly ordinary tools, like prayer and speaking, God does His special work in the heart, and He will bring lasting honor to His name as He did at the Red Sea. People will know and experience in their heart that Jesus is Lord.
--Written by: B.S.