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What is God's role? What is ours?

There's a story of a man who was at his house when heavy rains poured down, the river crested, and the town flooded. As he stood on his front porch, the neighborhood completely under water, two men came by in a rowboat. "Can we take you to safety?" one called out.

The man shook his head. "No, thank you. I have faith in the Lord and He will save me."

A little later, the waters had risen and the man was on the roof of his porch when several folks happened along in a motorboat. "Say, there, would you like to come with us?" one of them called.

"No, thank you," the man replied. "I have faith in the Lord, and He will save me."

The waters continued to rise with alarming speed, and the man soon found himself on the roof of his house. A helicopter came by and hovered overhead as the pilot broadcasted, "Let me drop a line and get you out of there."

"No, thank you," the man called back. "I have faith in the Lord, and He will save me."

The man perished in the flood and went to Heaven, where he was met at the Pearly Gates by Saint Peter. Extremely saddened and upset, the man requested to talk to God. His request was granted.

"Heavenly Father," the man cried, "I had faith in you to save me from the flood, and you didn't come through for me!"

Astonished, God replied, "What are you talking about? I sent you two boats and a helicopter!"

There's a lot of wisdom in that tale.

Many folks are of the mind that if they want something, all they need do is pray for it. And that's ALL they do, just pray. They pray for a better job to come along. They pray for more money. They pray for a mate. Then they sit back, put their feet up, and do absolutely nothing. After all, God will provide for them if they pray hard enough and long enough.

Now, I may be as far from a religious expert as you can get, but I don't think it works that way! Rewards come as a result of hard work, and of striving for a specific goal. Just the desire to succeed isn't enough, nor is dreaming. And nor is prayer alone. Prayer is supposed to be for guidance and a helping hand from God when the road gets rough or things don't look promising. It is not meant as a substitute for applying yourself. The Lord helps those who help themselves.

I recently read that God provides food for every baby bird, but He doesn't toss it into the nest. How true these words are. The world is rich with everything your heart desires, and every resource you need to survive. But you have to go out and look for them yourself. If it's a better job or more money you want, you need to work towards it. If everything is handed to you, you truly will not appreciate what you have. Humans are funny that way. We take things that come too easily to us for granted.

Daily, God gives us signs and shows us the way. The problem is, in this media-crazed society of ours, most of us don't notice the signs unless we're hit over the head with them. A sign is meaningless unless you know it's there. Guardian angels surround us at all times, helping to do God's work by indicating which path to take. You have to be aware of them, with your eyes and ears and heart. Sometimes the most obvious things aren't obvious.

I've often held the theory that the angels test us by pointing the way towards something and then placing obstacles in our path. This sounds contradictory, but there's a reason for it. They're watching to see how we react to those obstacles. Do we overcome them as they appear and continue on towards our goal? Or do we give up after one or two failures? The angels look for stuff like this! They want to see how much you want to reach your goal, how sincere you are, how badly you desire it. By the same token, if the angels don't feel something is right for you, even if it's something you want, they will shout rather than whisper.

If your car breaks down on the way to an important job interview, that could be a test of the angels. How badly do you want this job? Do you give up in disgust, or do you arrange for your car to be repaired and then take public transportation to the interview site? On the other hand, if the auto club takes three hours to get to you and your broken-down vehicle, and then the taxi driver loses his way, and after all this you arrive at your destination only to find that somebody else was already hired to fill the position (even though you'd called them from your cell phone!), then you were obviously not meant to get that job. Now, understand the distinction--you weren't supposed to get THAT job. It doesn't mean you're not supposed to get A job!

How often have you heard people say things like, "It was amazing. I hated my job but didn't want to leave until I could line up another one, but I wasn't having any luck finding anything. Then I ran into an old classmate of mine whom I hadn't seen since graduation, and it turns out he's vice president of XYZ company! I just handed in my two weeks notice. Isn't that the wildest coincidence?"

Coincidence is just God's way of remaining anonymous.

If we pray to God and continue to work hard towards our goals, the rewards will come. They will come in God's time, not ours. But they will come. Just be patient. Keep the destination in your sights, but enjoy the journey as well. God has a lot on His plate. But He shows us His grace daily. Every time I see a newborn baby, I'm reassured of the miracles God works in our lives, every single day.

God never abandons us. He is always with us, looking over our shoulders, lending support and comfort during the trying times. He is all around us and inside us as well. He surrounds us, enveloping us like a glove. Just look over your shoulder and He is there!

But He gave us free will for a reason. We are supposed to look out for one another. And we are supposed to help God along in making our dreams come true. This is because every extraordinary thing that happens in your lifetime is the result of a cooperative effort between you and God! It isn't all up to Him. Like the two boats and the helicopter mentioned at the beginning of this section, God will often help you by pointing you in the direction of something, or bringing help to you, or sending in other people to do His work. Although God has His hands on everything, He often works His miracles by proxy.

There are many people who believe that it is a sin to go to a doctor, no matter how sick they become. Such people, if they are parents, do not take their sick children to a doctor either. Instead, they pray fervently to God that their gravely ill children be healed. Yes, prayer helps. God hears your words. But in this case, prayer helps in conjunction with the parents' efforts. The angels are watching! Do you love your child and want to see him pull through? Of course you do! Then prove it by taking the child to a doctor so that he can receive the help he needs. God will work his miracles through a third party, an instrument, in this case a doctor. That is how God does his work. This is why doctors exist! God wants us to help one another and to take care of each other for Him. If it was just meant to be us and God, children wouldn't have parents; they wouldn't need any!

No matter what Name you know Him by, be aware of the Lord's presence in your life. Respect Him. Speak to Him daily via prayer, but show you are sincere by substantiating your words with deeds. Words without actions are meaningless, even words spoken in prayer. Remember, you and God together can make a difference!

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