“God is my Partner!” was my happy exclamation again and again as I drove my car through the congested street of a beautiful eastern city, with a young preacher as a companion. Finally, as I continued to reiterate the remark, he said quietly: “He is not merely your partner. He is everybody’s partner.”
His words made me pause. “Is God a partner of everyone?” I asked myself. And after a few moments of deep reflection on the matter, I came to the conclusion that He is not; for the Bible asks that question: “What concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? … Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” II Corinthians 6:15–17.
And, I continued to reflect, that not merely is God not everybody’s partner, but He may not be even my partner or associate under certain conditions. The Psalmist had sweet fellowship with God at one time, but he learned the sad lesson that this ineffable communion with God could be broken by sin. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Psalm 66:18.
So, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” I John 2:15.
When David turned his heart toward sin, his partnership with God was temporarily voided. But in deep sorrow of heart he cried out to God: “Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.” Psalm 51:11. “I acknowledged … my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32:5.
Nor is obvious sin the only obstacle to a full partnership with God. Such a sacred relationship is predicated on His being the senior partner, which simply means that He must always be the manager. “I will instruct thee.” Psalm 32:8. In other words, a real partnership between man and God is never one that is maintained on a basis of equality. We are always the junior partners and He is the senior Partner, Manager, or Director; for “He shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:6.
So no longer do I gleefully proclaim that “God is my Partner.” Now I talk of Him only as my Manager. And even then I sometimes stop to pose the question to myself: “Is He really my manager?” Haven’t I unconsciously tried, on occasions too numerous to mention, to take the prerogative of management out of His wise hands and assume it myself? Have not I tried to make the decisions and then asked Him to accede to my wishes? Haven’t I many times tried to force the hand of Providence while testifying to the fact that God does answer prayer? Yes, on all these points I have been guilty of failing to abide by the rules of my partnership with God. And I have noticed that too many others are also guilty of this shortcoming. Let me illustrate:
One day a lady came to me with a big problem relating to her husband. She was praying for his conversion. And later, in a letter to me, she expressed herself as follows: “I have prayed that if God is going to save my husband at the camp-meeting this year, He will make it possible for me to be there. That way I will know that if I can go to camp-meeting, God will also bring my husband there, some way, and he will be converted.”
Without thinking too deeply, I replied that this would be wonderful. But then I began to give the matter deeper consideration. This good woman was doing just what I had so often done. She was telling God what her conditions were, without giving any thought to the possibility that maybe God had some plan of His own. For instance, it was quite possible that He wanted her to go to camp-meeting for the benefit she herself would receive. However, she made her own attendance a sign that God would at that same meeting convert her husband. So she was doomed to disappointment because she had superimposed her will on God’s.
This train of thought made me ponder further the whole concept of man’s asking Him to make the decisions. Sometimes I have given the Lord a sign which would mean one of two things. But what I overlooked on these occasions was that perhaps God had a third, entirely different choice. I was, in fact, trying to act as the manager instead of only the junior partner.
Again, I have, at times, prayed that God would spare me from persecution. That in itself may sound like a simple and reasonable request. But, if all our ways are to be serene and without trial, where will we possibly attain perfection of character? For the Scriptures declare, “tribulation worketh patience.” Romans 5:3. Thus, even in this seemingly harmless request I was unconsciously arrogating [claiming] to myself the powers of decision that by all rights belong to Him as my Manager.
Then again, I have too often attempted to lay down the conditions of my receiving God’s blessings rather than to let God do so. I have said: “Now, Lord, if next year this is your plan for me, then by tomorrow do this for me.” But Christ has made it abundantly clear that this is not the basis on which God deals with us humans. Said Jesus: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:34. Jesus recognized this in teaching us to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11.
Even to His own Son, Jesus, the Heavenly Father disclosed His plans on a day to day basis. And Christ was fully satisfied to let His Father be His manager and guide. “He made no plans for Himself. He accepted God’s plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will.” The Desire of Ages, 208. “But the one who depends upon his own wisdom and power is separating himself from God. Instead of working in unison with Christ, he is fulfilling the purpose of the enemy of God and man.” Ibid., 209.
If my Manager sees that I need the rod and staff, then most gladly will I suffer. When Jesus comes again, “they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” Revelation 17:14. “Many are called, but few are chosen,” said the Master. Matthew 22:14. This is because “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10.
I try to make the great and continual prayer of my soul now: “Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.” Steps to Christ, 72.
In the days of Job, Satan challenged God. He declared that if God permitted affliction to come to Job that the latter would change his testimony concerning God. Prior to this, Job had been a holy man, and he had witnessed for God on many, many occasions. But in any court the witness is liable to cross-examination to see if he will perchance change his testimony. Satan claims that all humanity is basically motivated by the same spirit of selfishness by which he is actuated. Therefore God permits Satan to afflict the children of God, at least temporarily, to prove whether his charge is true.
But even as severe as these trials may seem to us, the apostle Paul says they are but a “light affliction.” II Corinthians 4:17. He says that in comparison with the glories of eternal life, they are mere nothing.
If, therefore, my Manager sees that it is better for me to permit affliction to come upon me, then why should I ask for release? I would a thousand times over prefer to be refined by fiery trials if that be His will for me. It will be the means of melting away the dross in my life and preparing me for eternal partnership with Him in the new earth where “affliction shall not rise up the second time.” Nahum 1:9.
And so, I would not pray merely for the temporal blessings. I would pray for character, consisting of all the wonderful attributes possessed by Jesus. If it takes suffering to accomplish this, then may I have the fellowship of His suffering. If it takes the enmity of the world, or even that of professed Christians, to bring it about; even then let me never take matters out of His hands.
Exuberantly, then, the true Christian can declare: “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” Psalm 73:24.
I Met God, by Glenn A. Coon, 133-140, Kingsport Press, Inc., Kingsport, Tennessee.
During his life, Glenn Coon was a mighty warrior for the faith of Jesus. He was a preacher and writer of many books encouraging a closer relationship with Jesus. He now sleeps in his dusty grave waiting the return of His Lord and best friend, Jesus.