The title of this post is a refrain that I have heard throughout my life in the church. I’ve heard this regularly from pastors, from people who are explaining what they believe is a prophecy from God, or just from someone who is telling us what they think God is doing within us or around us.
As I write here on this blog site, I don’t like to write in the negative or be a critic, so I want to say that this is not my intention here. However, what I do want to say is that I have frequently been disappointed by these statements that “God is about to do something great”, because, through my eyes and in my experience, life seems to kind of roll along normally without anything seemingly “great” happening.
I want to allow for some possible explanations here that I think should be considered. Here are a few that I can think of:
First, I might have my head down or my heart closed such that I don’t see the great things that God is doing around me. This is a very real possibility and something that I have realized about myself at times after I have looked back in hindsight. After having realized this, I have put myself through seasons where I was specifically trying to look for God at work around me, and thankfully I have been able to see it at times. Thank God for this!
Second, connected to the first point, my expectations of what “great” means may be a bit too grand. I, of course, believe that God can work through everyday events as much as the spectacular, so looking for God within the everyday is important as well.
Third and finally, it may actually be that there is an optimism about God’s movement and working among us that is unwarranted given our lack of obedience and taking action upon his commandments.
Recently, I was talking with a friend about a difficult situation that he was facing. He told me that God would need to intervene and that he felt like Moses facing the Red Sea. He knows that God will need to act for him to go forward in the situation that he is in and he quoted what Moses said to the Israelite people in Exodus 14:
Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”Exodus 14:13-14
We find out that Moses is exactly right. God does fight for the Israelites. As we go forward in Exodus 14, we see that God gives the Israelites a rear guard throughout the night, he parts the Red Sea so that they can cross, and then he covers the Egyptian army with the sea such that it wipes out both Pharaoh and the entire army. Truly, Moses is correct that God will fight for them, and we see that God follows through on this promise!
My sense is that this is the nature of these promises from the pastors and the prophetic words that say God is about to do something are similar to the words from Moses. In many ways, I think that they are right. I believe that God is typically up to something and ready to move, ready to draw others to himself, ready to use someone.
So why have I not, then, sensed significant movement when these things are proclaimed and declared? Wouldn’t I expect to know that, if God is moving around me, I should be able to recognize it? It certainly seems that way as we look in the scriptures as the people typically knew that God was moving, even if they didn’t know precisely the nature of what he was doing.
Keeping in mind that it could be any of the three areas that I mentioned above, I want to suggest that I think it really is related to the third issue above, a lack of obedience in the things that we have already been told to do.
Interestingly, about the time that I had this conversation with my friend, I also had been reading this exact same passage with my family during our morning time in the Bible that we have while eating our breakfast. At that time, I noticed that God, right after Moses told the Israelites to be still and to stand firm, God immediately then tells Moses to get moving! Directly in the next verses, here is what God says:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.Exodus 14:15-16
We see, therefore, that God tells Moses to get moving. He doesn’t want them to stay put. He wants them to go!
So was Moses wrong when he told the Israelites to stand firm, and to be still? Was God overruling him? Maybe / maybe not. In my opinion, I think that, if Moses means that the Israelites need to have a dependency upon God and that he will do everything that they need to escape, then he is exactly correct. And in truth, I think that this is precisely what Moses means.
But if we look at the entirety of the passage, we see that God calls Moses and the Israelites to move, to continue their escape from Egypt, to continue to do what he had already told them to do. He wants them to continue to obey him. They are to continue to trust him, that he would deliver them, but they are to continue in their obedience because of their trust in him, and in this way, God will save them from destruction at the hand of the Egyptians.
How do we apply this, then, to our situation today? When people say, “God is about to do something great”, can’t we also say that we must trust that God is working while at the same time being certain that we’re doing what he has already told us to do?
If you love me, keep my commands.John 14:15
Here are some foundational commands that we might consider:
Are we loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength?
Are we loving our neighbor as ourselves?
Are we making disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything that he commanded?
In what real, practical ways are we doing this? If we say that we are doing it, is it the case that we are simply agreeing with the scriptures that these things are right without making it practical in our lives, or are we actually putting time, energy, money, and effort behind making these things real? How? In what way?
I believe that it is true that God is about to do something great, but I don’t know that we will see it unless we are doing the things that he has already told us. God is always doing something new, but as his people, we need to remember that God has already given us all sorts of things to do, and we need to be sure that we’re doing those things. I believe that it is likely that through our doing the things that God has already told us to do that we will see God do something great.