In church we hear a lot of “if/then” statements. And the bible is full of them. God makes promises with us that are conditional, not to add a burden to our lives, but to cultivate growth in our hearts and to make us more like the Jesus. For example:
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matt 21:22
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20
Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5
The more I read the bible, the more I realize how constant God is. He has been the same faithful, glorious, divine, steadfast, generous God since day one. I just don’t always give him the credit for it. When I think of these “If/Then” statements I always think of the near future, “Well if God hasn’t done anything about that prayer by now then that must mean it’s a no.” But God is more complex than that. He works intricately, weaving his plan until completion. Psalm 126:5-6 says, “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” Basically, those who draw closer to God in every circumstance and consistently work for His glory will reap joy and blessings in abundance. But what if we work and do whats good with a humble heart and still don’t see the “then?”
Normally when I look at those “If/Then” statements and in my head its more like “If/Tomorrow” but a lot of the things I have asked, are currently being fulfilled or have already been fulfilled. God is bringing to fruition now things I have constantly asked for years in advance. He has always been good on his promises I just haven’t always recognized them. In 6th grade, I went to a youth retreat with my church. Our topic for the weekend was purity. In the closing session that Sunday, I made a promise to God to keep myself pure for marriage. With an earnest heart, I asked God to help me in this. Eleven years later God is still walking with me to bring that promise to fruition. He has blocked relationships from starting; he always gave me a good support system in my friends, and has guarded my heart. I don’t mean to sound like a mushy purity blog, but my point in all of this is that a lot of times we think we’ve missed out of God’s blessing but we haven’t. We just haven’t looked for them. We don’t even recognize when our “if’s” become “then’s.” Most times we don’t know look for them because we don’t read the promises in the bible. We don’t even know they exist. I can see the blessings from that one prayer now through the bible, God has opened my eyes. This summer I have been studying the Songs of Ascent in the book of Psalm. They are all about looking up and fixing out gaze on Christ. Often we don’t see the “thens” because we are looking in the wrong places with the wrong lenses. Shift your focus and instead of looking around you to see the effects of your prayers, look up. Then, a lot of your requests and unanswered prayers end up already being accomplished.