Normally I have no idea what I’m going to write here in this space until I sit down and spend time in the quiet with Jesus each morning. But I’ve known since yesterday that I was going to write this post today, when I was in the process of writing that our role is simply to say yes.
What I want to share with you is something that totally changed everything for me when it comes to understanding what we do and what God does in our process of formation.
Yesterday, I wrote that our role is simply to notice God’s activity in our lives and then to say yes to it. Our role is to say yes and to embrace his work. I wrote that God does the hard work — all we do is choose to participate.
But what does our participation look like? What does it mean to say yes?
Enter the principle of indirection. This is something I first discovered about three years ago, and it completely blew my mind.
The principle basically says this:
We do what we can do (something within our power to do) in order to provide an opportunity for God to do in us what we cannot do for ourselves (something outside the scope of our power).
Usually this means choosing something tangible to practice intentionally and regularly for a season — something it is not difficult for us to exert our will to do — and doing it with the trust and intention for God to do the hard work of changing our character in the places he wants it changed.
That’s what I mean about him doing what we cannot do. We cannot change ourselves; only he can. But we can participate by acknowledging that we’re aware he wants to work in us and by choosing something small to practice as an acceptance of that work.
This is the idea that backs up Jesus’ words that he came to heal the sick, for the sick cannot heal themselves.
It’s the idea that backs up what Paul promises about how God, who began a good work in us, will be faithful to complete it. It’s the idea that backs up what is told to us about Jesus washing us and then presenting us clean and perfect and pristine before the throne of God in the end.
It’s the idea that backs up all those passages I quoted from Romans 3-5 yesterday about God’s role and our role in the life we share with him.
Our burden really is light because our participation — our saying yes — simply means choosing to do something that is safely within our power to do, trusting that God will supernaturally use it to change our very nature.
This is not onerous work. It is not meant to be. But it is meant to be intentional. And it is meant to be done with the trust that God is the one who changes us.
Hat tip: I actually wrote about the principle of indirection here about three years ago, when I first learned about it and was starting to have my mind blown by the concept. If you’d like to hear some specific examples of what the principle of indirection can look like in an ordinary life (my own), check out the original article that shares the way I began to practice it from the beginning.
What simple, faithful choice might you adopt to enter into the acceptance of the work God is about in you right now?