Cooperating with the Lord

From Rev. Eric Carswell, Head Pastor
February 18, 2020

When things aren’t going as well as we would like, sometimes we say to ourselves, “I’ll just try harder!” This can be exactly what we need to do, but in other situations, it is a recipe for failure. When things aren’t going well in some area of our life, it can be an indicator that we are not effectively cooperating with the Lord.
For example, diligent and persistent efforts to help another person (whether that person is very young, a teen, or an adult) that are based on an unhealthy desire to control him or her or guarantee that person’s life “goes right” are likely to produce increasingly messy results. Trying even harder can produce a bigger mess.
What is needed in these times is the realization that a major issue may be within us, that we have a flaw in our approach to others. Sometimes when a person recognizes a flaw in themselves such as impatience, perfectionism, or a tendency to view too many things in a negative light, that person can shrug and just think “I guess that is just the way I am.” But consider the implications of the following quotation:

The need for us to purify ourselves from evils, and not to wait for the Lord to do it without our participation, is like a servant coming in with his face and clothes covered in soot and dung, approaching his master, and saying, “Lord, wash me.” … The Lord God is going to say, “The means of being purified come from Me. Your willingness and your power come from me. Therefore use these gifts and endowments of mine as your own and you will be purified.” And so on. (True Christian Religion 331:4)

On the other hand, people sometimes assume that past failure means that a task is impossible. They can say, “Oh, we tried that in the past and it didn’t work.” Take the example of efforts that have been made in the past to spread the New Church. If people’s past efforts did not cooperate well with the Lord, that is weren’t carried out in a wise way, little lasting success could have been predicted. For example, when the Cathedral was first completed many visitors came and were interested in New Church ideas. A person there, at the time, observed that the Bryn Athyn young adults meeting newcomers at the Cathedral frequently entered “into discussions, and, it must be admitted, sometimes into arguments about the doctrines.” If Bryn Athyn Church members were intent on proving that lifelong beliefs of visitors were terrible false ideas, it probably didn’t leave a very good impression on them. Just because these conversations bore little fruit, does it mean nothing will ever work in this area? Of course not.
As we work to accomplish the tasks and uses that the Lord opens our eyes to each day, may we seek to cooperate better with Him so both we and those whom we seek to serve may be blessed.

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