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Food for Thought - Musings

"I Can Work With That"

In late February I was speaking with a brother in Christ, each of us sharing our journeys to Jesus, and surprisingly we found some astonishing similarities. These similarities were not about the circumstances of our pre-Christian lives or our pathway to Jesus, but rather the characteristic graciousness God extended toward each of us while separated from God.


You see, as each of us were starting our journeys toward Jesus, our motives were anything but pure. For my brother in Christ, it was about getting additional practice time to hone his skills as a musician and of course to meet girls, while for me it was a free weekly trip to the beach and something to do on Friday nights (volleyball) during the summer and possibly the opportunity to meet girls. As we spoke, my companion used the following words to encapsulate God’s gracious interaction with us: “I can work with that.” As soon as he uttered these words I knew that this was a spiritual gem, a nugget of Divine wisdom; the Spirit in this moment had chosen to reveal to us a bit of God’s heart and predisposition to meet people where they currently are. Since that conversation I have pondered the revelatory words “I can work with that” as a declaration of God’s love and grace.


As I sat with these words a number of biblical stories flooded my heart and mind. I thought of God saying to Moses, “What do you have in your hand?” and then as Moses responded “a stick” God, in essence, saying “I can work with that”; a young boy with a few rocks and a sling going to fight a giant, “I can work with that”; a young girl, a virgin, pledged to be married, “I can work with that”, having only five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 people-- again “I can work with that”; the person who states in response to Jesus’ power to heal, “I believe, help me in my unbelief”, “I can work with that,” or a woman, with an issue of blood, reaching out with trembling hand to touch Jesus cloak, yet again, "I can work with that”.


This phrase captures God’s heart, God’s proactive posture toward us. God’s eyes scanning the world looking for a tiny access point, a miniscule turning toward, an openness, be it ever so small, and in that moment, no matter the initial motivation of the individual, God rushes in with God’s “I can work with that” mentality – a mentality and interior posture that announces and affirms God’s heart that all would become part of God’s family; experiencing God’s love, God presence and all that is available in Christ.


This proactive posture of God is not only toward those who have not yet come to know Jesus, but also to all those within the family of God. I see this in my own life again and again and again. I choose to go to Church, to read the Bible, to bring greater intentionality to my walk with God, to be kind to another…with a mixture of motivations and feelings and God meets me there, stating loud and clear; “I can work with that.” The God who stepped in and loved us when we were yet sinners, dead in our trespasses and sins, continues to meet us where we are - in our brokenness, with our mixed motives and struggles to believe, to be faithful, and chooses to work with whatever we can offer God in the moment, declaring for all to
hear “I can work with that!”


This “I can work with that” stance of God is a reminder that God is a God who is love and is always loving us with a nothing-can-separate-you-from-it kind of love. God’s love is patient, kind, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things and enduring all things. God’s love never, ever fails. This coming to know God’s heart posture as “I can work with that” helps me to continue to trust God and trust the process with myself and with my anything- worth-doing-is-worth-doing-poorly offerings, as well as to trust God and trust the process as I journey with others. As I more fully embrace God’s “I can work with that” attitude for myself, I am empowered to believe it on behalf of others.


Suddenly it is not up to me to create some incredible experience, or give an authoritative teaching, or provide an indisputable line of logic to close the deal, to change a life, but I can trust that God is involved and present with those with whom I journey, always poised and waiting for that tiny access point, miniscule turning toward, or openness be it ever so small, that God can work with. Suddenly God is once again God and I am invited to be as faithful as I can in the moment, trusting in the gracious working of the “I can work with that” heart of God.


Reflection:


Look back over your own life; how have you, how are you, experiencing God’s gracious “I can work with that” posture in your own life? Think through those times when you showed up, not having it all together, maybe even with mixed motives, not fully able to believe, and yet God has met you in surprisingly gracious ways. What does that reveal to you about who God is? How does it make you feel toward God?


As you begin to reflect on those times when God met you far more than half way - what does that reveal to you about the person and character of God? How might this help you to choose to show up just as you are in the future even when you feel you don’t have much to offer?


Are you sensing God currently inviting you into something that seems impossible for you, something you feel ill equipped to handle, to do? If yes, how might seeing God as the I-can-work-with-that God free you to lean into this challenge/invitation from God?


How might your ability to see God as the God whose heart and proactive posture is all about “I can work with that” free you to authentically be you, and free you to minister to others without the tendency to take responsibility for the outcomes?


This musing is a ministry of b. b is a nonprofit ministry that exists to assist pastors, church staffs, seminarians, professors and missionaries by offering contemplative retreats, spiritual direction, staff development and spiritual formation opportunities.


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