The Loving and Patient Hand of God

by Mike Ratliff

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  (Rom 8:26-27 ESV)

I am still on the road, but should be home this evening. I spent much of my time over the last several days with my 13 month old grandson. His mental and physical development over the last several months has been amazing. His understanding of how to function in his environment has grown as well. He has his own little personality and ways. It is a joy to see this creation of God in action. However, he must still be watched closely and his mother and father still have to provide for his needs and protection. He does not know what is good for him or what is bad. He is very smart, but his mental development is that of a toddler. I asked God to show me something profound during this trip. I went to visit my parents this weekend as well. They are both in an assisted living center. They are in their 80′s. I learned much during that visit as well about the stages of our lives and how God is intimately involved throughout in our care and development.

My grandson’s immaturity is analogous of what we are like spiritually when we are early in our walk with the Lord. Sadly, many never grow far beyond this helpless stage in which they can only consume liquid and easily digestible spiritual food. Their spiritual discernment is like my grandson’s lack of understanding about what is harmful or dangerous. They require constant care or they will surely become involved in things that will cause them great spiritual harm just as we must keep those electrical outlets covered and certain doorways blocked so my grandson won’t do things that could cause him much harm.

This is that period when much learning takes place. My daughter and son-in-law are good parents and do work with my grandson to teach him the truth. They know that they must work with him to keep him from doing things that could hurt him. That is why God gives the Church teachers and preachers and theologians whose job it is to teach and train those who have been rescued from the broad and easy way to Hell by the grace of God. He has saved them from His own wrath that is coming on all those outside of His grace. These whom He has saved must be taught and trained so they do not remain in spiritual babyhood. Tragically, so much of the stuff going on the visible Church does not do this, but actually encourages it.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Rom 8:26-27 ESV)

Another part of raising a baby is feeding him or her. As the baby grows into toddlerhood the task becomes much more varied than simply “fixing a bottle,” but includes more solid food, but it still must be carefully prepared and fed to the baby in a way that he or she both learns to prefer it to “milk,” and also the joy of feeding himself or herself. However, through it all, the parent (or grandparent :-) ) must still be the one who decides this. Spiritually, this is also true. God is the ultimate source of the teaching that makes us grow up spiritually and He has given this to us in His Word. However, there are a lot of counterfeit teachings out there that do not promote spiritual growth. If they were true then they would also be used by the Holy Spirit to strengthen the believers under those teachings enabling them to crucify the flesh. Therefore, as a teacher of God’s Word I must search the Scriptures in order to teach what the Spirit directs in a way that brings God glory.

I have also watched my grandson play and learn. We never allow him to play with things that are not safe for him. However, I did allow him to play on my laptop some and to “help me” run through the pictures stored on digital camera. I could let him do these things only if I was right there to keep him from doing things that could destroy my laptop or camera. It took a lot of patience on my part to work with him to learn how to hit the right buttons to get meaningful results. If I simply let him do what he wanted then he quickly became frustrated with his lack of understanding and then would throw the computer or camera on the floor in a fit of anger. However, if I helped him find the right sequence of buttons to push to get the right results then we could go on and on for quite some time. Through this I learned that God must be very patient with us. We do not know how to pray or serve or study the Bible or anything meaningful in the Kingdom unless we are trained and that takes time and training and our participation. If we do not participate then we do not learn, but it is also a sure thing that in our immaturity as Christians we will make mistakes. We will become frustrated with our lack of understanding. Our own wisdom and patience will be deficient so we can easily become so frustrated with our spiritual growth so that we devolve from learning into simply creatures of experience. That is tragic. Yes, and it is where much of the Church is right now.

In my time with my parents and the other elderly people at the assisted living center I saw the other extreme. These people have already lived their lives, but they are in a stage of life that requires caregivers to be there for them in all things or they would not survive very long. They make foolish decisions if left to themselves. However, God has given them caregivers and in my parents case, three children and their families who care for them very much. We remember their care of us when we were young and foolish so we are caring for them now that they seem to have lost the ability to reason through things in an expedient way. How does this relate to our spiritual walk? I pray every day for wisdom, discernment, and direction. I pray that He will use me in the Kingdom for His glory. I pray for Him to hide me in Him and that when I minister that He receive all the glory. If I continue this will I end up some day requiring the more spiritually astute to guide me and care for me and keep me from making foolish decisions about my walk and ministry? I have witnessed some solid appearing spiritual leaders get to the end of their ministries and make a shipwreck of them by their unwise decisions. I pray that I will not do that. I pray for God to preserve me to the end all for His glory and to keep me from this sort of thing.

God cares for His people and there is not one thing that can separate them from Him (Romans 8). He is patient with us and we must look at our spiritual development as babes who are being taught and cared for by a loving parent. As we grow more mature in our walk we must not allow the world to distract us from the pursuit of God’s truth nor the joy of living our lives by abiding in Christ through it all. He is our all, we are nothing nor can we do anything without Him.

Soli Deo Gloria!

(Rom 8:26-27 ESV)Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
(Rom 8:26-27 ESV)Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
(Rom 8:26-27 ESV)

2 thoughts on “The Loving and Patient Hand of God

  1. Dear brother :-D
    As I read, I felt the tenderness of the Lord, who already knows each and every part of all of my life, it was as if He put his arms about my shoulders.

    It does us all good to sit back and take stock of just how much Our Lord really does do in us, for us and how He leads us and for us to see how little we can ever hope to accomplish without Him in His rightful place in our lives.

    It is a sad day when we think we know it all and are no longer have a teachable spirit. It makes us hard and arrogant. As your grandson learns to explore life around him, step by tiny step, we too need to learn of Jesus step by step and this is done by keeping our eyes on Him as we move. Period.

    When we are young we really know nothing, then we grow up a bit and think we know it all. As we grow up a bit more, we only find out the more we know, we are still only scratching the surface.

    Bless you and I am so glad you had a lovely, blessed time with your family.

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