Staying Focused

There is danger in getting too excited by answered prayer.

Genesis 24:29-33 (ESV)

Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban. Laban ran out toward the man, to the spring. As soon as he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister's arms, and heard the words of Rebekah his sister, “Thus the man spoke to me,” he went to the man. And behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring. He said, “Come in, O blessed of the LORD. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” So the man came to the house and unharnessed the camels, and gave straw and fodder to the camels, and there was water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. Then food was set before him to eat. But he said, “I will not eat until I have said what I have to say.” He said, “Speak on.”

This is the other side of how to react to the LORD’s blessing – finishing. Abraham’s servant is still focused on his task like a laser.

The servant isn’t just antsy to get his message out; he’s avoiding a sin that is far too common in modern America. When God blesses us, we get excited and feel like celebrating. That can be a mistake. If you’re in the middle of a task that God is blessing, don’t lose focus. You need to honor God’s faithfulness with some faithfulness of your own. Anything less than your best effort insults God’s blessing.

The servant will have plenty of time to celebrate at the wedding.

This can get complicated. Here, the servant has a specific plan and it’s working out perfectly. That’s great, and the servant is reacting properly.

But more often God’s blessing involves a change in plans. His blessings can look like setbacks at first.

Our plans tend to be flawed, if not downright sinful. So, God blesses us by nudging us over to the right plan. Staying on task in this context isn’t as simple as just finishing. We need to “read” the situation and discern the LORD’s will. This is tricky because some setbacks are normal hurdles meant to strengthen us, while others are signs that we’re on the wrong path.

There are no step-by-step instructions for how to handle this; you just have to keep your wits about you. However, there are some basic principles.

First of all, He is Lord and we’re not. Always seek to honor Him. Double-check your goals to guard against promoting your own self-interest or protecting your ego. A big change in plans can be brutally humbling, but if that’s the Lord’s will, failure to heed the signs will be even more brutal. Also, double check to make sure you’re in conformity with scripture.

Lastly, normal hurdles are annoying and hard to get through, but usually that’s all. A sign that it’s something more than that will look like a sign (a twist that’s designed to get your attention). A supernatural clue should look supernatural. Something amazing or “head-scratching” will happen.

That can mean almost anything, but it definitely means it’s time to pay attention.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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