25 years ago we put in a three foot high retaining wall with railroad ties to hold back a slope at the side of our house, and continued the wall in a single row at the bottom of a less steep slope at the front of the house. But even creosote-soaked ties rot after decades, and we replaced the retaining wall with landscape blocks, leaving the front layer of ties. However, the blocks and ties didn’t match, yet I didn’t want the extra work of removing and disposing of the ties, so I got some matching blocks to put over the ties from a neighbor (thanks Kurt!). Ice plant had grown over many of the ties, sometimes a foot high. More work to cut it back.
So I got out my shovel to cut through it, then had an inspiration—I’d put Thomas Alva Edison to work! I connected my hedge trimmer to the power supply he invented, and the job got done easily and quickly. That’s the first pic. Some yard tasks I can do all on my own. Some I have others do. Some I blend my work and another’s. I know my limits, both of energy and ability.
And I thought of how that matches the spiritual life, and here’s the foundation, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed— not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence— continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).
We need to know our limits and abilities. God works in us, doing what we cannot. He offers salvation, we accept it through Christ. We just can’t do that on our own.
We work, sometimes on our own, when the task has no spiritual implication. We have the power to do that, like when I mow my lawn.
God and we work together as we work out our salvation. Or, we work it into transforming our character, doing the godly deed in place of the ungodly one. God provides power; we provide the choice.
What’s the result of partnering with God? Take a look at the second pic, the finished project. Now, picture you, a bit down the spiritual road. Want to get the job done? Partner with God, and let him do what he best does—changing us.
Kick Starting the Application
What goal do you have in mind for your spiritual journey? A bit ambitious or more casual? How do you find a balance of God’s work and yours? Do you lean to an activist, strong individual side or a more passive one? How has that worked for you? Pray about this post, about how you and God can cooperate more effectively.