Blocked by Good Works?
Road construction indicates the beginning of summer in Colorado. We encounter delays and detours whether traveling the highways or driving the side streets in our small town to run a “quick” errand.
Last week, bright orange cones and a town work crew blocked the first street I turned on to, a barricade and “Road Work Ahead” sign on the second, and billowing smoke mixed with the overpowering smell of hot oil and asphalt obscured the third.
I backtracked, drove the short stretch of highway, and finally reached my destination.
Our Christian walk often feels like this, doesn’t it? We set out to accomplish the good works “God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10, NIV),” our heart’s desire to see Him glorified, yet we have an enemy who opposes God and the work we do in His name. With one goal in mind—to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10)—Satan will set up every spiritual, physical, and emotional road block along our path.
It occurred to me, however, in my current state of lacking focus and feeling lost, that sometimes I interpret the side streets and road blocks all wrong.
Could it be that some side streets which appear good—invitations to help, serve, minister—are actually tactics to oppose the true work God prepared for us?
My answer is yes; I see it happen (happening) in my life. Like the day I set out to run my errand, I start with one goal and focus. I know it’s God-ordained because I prayed and listened for God’s direction. But along the way, I’m invited to turn down a side street with the lure of doing good works for the Lord. This is where I should set up a road block—a time to pray and ask God if this good thing is the right thing. Has He called me to turn down that road to help, serve, and minister? Or am I turning in my own strength, willingness, or desire to please and feel needed?
It won’t take long to answer these questions; as I wander down one side street after another, I end up crying out to God, “I’m lost! I don’t know where I am or what I should do!” I’ve put up the road block much later than I could have or should have, but now I stop long enough to catch my breath, pray and listen, trusting God will lead me back to the road and destination He asked me to focus on in the first place.
There are so many good things out there—opportunities to serve the Lord—and God wants us to do good in this world. Doing good isn’t wrong, but busying ourselves with good works God did not intend for us to do is. He says in 1 Samuel 15:22b: To obey is better than sacrifice.
God knows our hearts and good intentions. He knows we didn’t willfully disobey Him when we accepted the invitation to do that good work without asking Him if we should. Have you heard the saying, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy”? You won’t find it in Scripture, but perhaps, like me, you've experienced the truth of it.
Don’t forget, Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), so his opposition doesn’t always appear blatantly bad. Our enemy can render us ineffective or distract us from our true purpose and calling all in the name of doing good.
The solution is simple, although it may not be easy… especially for people-pleasers like me. We must allow God’s grace to serve as a road block of prayer at the onset of every invitation and opportunity. When we do this, He’ll ensure that every yes is His yes… the next obedient step in the right direction.