Father God Continues to Work

Father God Continues to Work

Father God Continues to Work.

“My Father is always working, and so am I.”  (John 5:17).

We serve a sleepless God who continues working 24/7. While the world is asleep, the Father never ceases to work in His creation. While we live in the presence of friends and enemies, He steadfastly remains in the watchtower of the universe to keep and guard us. While the world has taken God out of nature, His presence remains, to the tiniest atomic particle in every cell. The Father is here, right now, and He will remain. Has God always worked? What about the seventh day after the original creation, the Sabbath day? He took a rest then, didn’t He? There is a Jewish tradition that makes a lot of sense… God rested on the first Sabbath day in order to set the pattern for every person, but He has continued working after that first Sabbath since then. God is the “never-ending Governor of the world,” and if God stopped working, even on the Sabbath, “all of nature would fall into chaos.” So, instead of making a well-oiled machine and then sitting back on His throne to watch it work, Father God continues to work in His creation… Creating; Sustaining; Renewing; Blessing; Observing; Listening.

(1.) Creating. God continues to be creative inside His creation. He loves His handiwork and will always have a personal hand in to develop it and create more than there is now. He is the example to us of His command to Adam and Eve: Be fruitful and fill the earth. God Himself is fruitful and continues to fill the earth.

Expanding the Universe. God is not finished with His vast cosmos. He didn’t complete the heavens at the time of creation. He continues working, even without eye-witnesses, as He continues to expand His universe. Scientists have now gone on record to claim that somehow “space itself has been stretching, and carrying matter along with it.” (Sierra Club). “The universe is expanding faster than scientific models predict, a hint that some unknown ingredient could be at work in the universe. It’s looking even more likely that there is some fundamental ingredient of the cosmos that astronomers have yet to pin down.” (National Geographic). Perhaps we already know Who that unknown, fundamental “ingredient” is.

Forming All the Babies. Scripture is clear about God creating human beings, living souls, in His original creation (Genesis 1-2). And because He loves humanity with all His heart, made in His image, and He wants to keep a hand in, He continues His creation by forming every human being that is conceived on planet earth. In Psalm 139:13-16, David beautifully describes what this ongoing work of God looks like. Different translations of this passage offer helpful ways of looking at this process of life in the womb: shaped from the inside out; woven together; formed in secret; sculpted from nothing into something; textured in the depths; embroidered in the dark; skillfully wrought; and intricately woven. This is all picturing God at work! In verse 16, David observes through the Spirit that God saw his substance “yet unformed” in the womb. The Tanakh Jewish Bible says, “Your eyes saw my unformed limbs.” The Message says it this way, “Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth – all the stages of my life were spread out before you.” In the original Hebrew, verse 16 literally points to the growing fetus… “Your eyes could see me as an embryo.” (New Jerusalem Bible). Father God is still working, and that includes His hidden workplace in the womb of every pregnant woman. Isn’t it mind-boggling to consider that this unformed substance, this embryo in the womb, is merely in the beginning stages and yet is even now made in the image of God?

2. Sustaining. Our creative Father is full of present-tense faithfulness to His beloved world. He is devoted to sustaining the world He made, strengthening and nourishing it so that His creation will thrive. He will support and prolong His creation so that it flourishes and will continue to declare the excellence of His workmanship and glory. He will not withdraw His sustaining presence, because of course this world and everything in it depends on His sustaining Presence and grace for its very existence. “If God were to take back His Spirit and withdraw His breath, all life would cease, and humanity would return to dust.” (Job 34:14-15).

Maintaining Nature. God’s first covenant in human history was with Noah soon after the Flood. Sustainer God promised to Noah and his descendants that nature would remain in place. “So long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22). God promised to sustain His creation as He watched over the established patterns in nature. God promised to preserve what He created. The Father established those patterns in nature to sustain His world, and He will continue to stay involved with His handiwork.

Supporting Humanity. The Father continues to sustain us with His upholding presence in our lives. Every cell in our body contains His presence, including the dancing subatomic particles in every nucleus. The faithfulness of God to sustain us isn’t really in question, is it? Consider His chosen people in the wilderness, “Isn’t He your Father who created you? Has He not made and established you? Remember the days of long ago; think about the generations past. Ask your father, and he will inform you… He found them in a desert land, in an empty, howling wasteland. He surrounded them and watched over them; He guarded them. Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so He spread His wings to take them up and carried them safely on His feathers.” (Deuteronomy 32:6-10). Father God sustained them, and He will work at sustaining us in the same way. Consider David’s life experience, “Cast your burdens upon the Lord, and He will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:22). And think about the deep trust of Jeremiah as he says, “The faithful lovingkindness of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23). The Father continues to work in the world by bringing us new mercies every morning. He sustains us through His daily mercies.

(3.) Renewing. Father God is the Great Reviver. He remains poised to bring new life to anything and everything in the world that needs it. As the Author of life, He is at the ready to rejuvenate, to replenish, to breathe new life into the weak, the worn out, that which seems to be dead or dying. God is in the business of refreshing and transforming to make things like new. Creator God brings a rebirth to whatever needs to start over.

Renewing Nature. God loves His creation so much that He wants to remain an active participant, both by His personal presence and through the established patterns of nature He has put into place. God has a personal hand in every aspect of creation. When the sun rises in your part of the world, is it merely a mechanical operation that happens like clockwork, or is God Himself bringing the sun around and singing a new song in nature every day? When the psalmist asks God to “renew the face of the earth” (Ps. 104:30), is the psalmist merely asking for the world’s timer switch to activate, or is he asking God to rejuvenate the world and replenish it so it can flourish? It seems that renewal of the earth is a source of joy for the Father, and He loves to see vitality in His creation. The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins puts it like this… “As sure as what is most sure, sure as that spring primroses shall new-dapple next year, sure as to-morrow morning, amongst come-back-again things, things with a revival, things like recovery, Thy name…”  And the miraculous truth is that God in His wisdom and love has given His creation the ability to renew itself. How else can one explain what happens after destructive wildfires… the fire in fact allowed important nutrients to re-enter the soil; it created new habitats for plants and animals to thrive; it killed diseased plants and provides for healthy plants to grow instead; it incinerated harmful insects that were feeding on the vegetation; and it created what is called a “superbloom,” in which the burned-out, rejuvenated forest will explode into a display of thousands of  beautiful flowers! God’s creation follows the Creator’s plan to continue renewing the face of the earth. Yes, the Father is still at work in the ministry of renewal. “For it is He alone who works mighty deeds, produces things ever new, who sows righteousness, causes salvation to spring forth, is fearful in renowned deeds, who renews His goodness day to day in the works of His creation.” (excerpt from Jewish Morning Prayer).

Renewing Humanity. Ever since the tragedy of the Fall in the Garden of Eden, God has been at work in people-renewal. God wants to return to the Garden, broken people returning to wholeness, hurting people returning to full health, and cursed people brought to salvation. He desires strength to replace weakness, and life to displace death. The Father wants to have a direct hand in renewing our mind (Romans 12:2), our spirit (Psalm 51:10), and the vigor of our youth (Isaiah 40:31). The Father wants to make us like new as we live in union with Him. “Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.”(Ephesians 4:23-24). The Father is at work through His Spirit to restore the image of His Son Jesus in each of us. Jesus is the prototype of humanity, and the Father wants us all to be renewed in the image of His Son. “So we are not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. Even though our outer person gradually wears out, our inner being is renewed every single day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16). No matter what, Father God continues to faithfully work in the people-renewal business.

(4.) Blessing. God is the Supreme Blesser. He is so full of love that He created a world out of nothing so He could share His love with us. He is ever looking outward, searching for those with whom He could share His life. Any goodness in this world, any truth, any beauty, is traced directly back to the Source, to our Creator God. The Father continues to be a blesser in our lives, whether it’s working in each believer to do what is pleasing to Him (Phil. 2:23), or working all things together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28), or equipping each believer with all we need to do His will (Heb. 13:20-21). And we know that once God starts working in us, He has the perfect work ethic. God will never call it quits. “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears (Phil. 1:6). Because God is magnanimous and generous in His deep love, He blesses the whole world in its fallenness. Whether or not one is a believer, God sends the replenishing rain on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45), He grows food for the wicked and the good. God’s nature can’t help but bless everyone everywhere. The whole world is blessed by the Blesser, but most are unaware. “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God the Father. These gifts are rivers of light, cascading down from the Father of Light, who shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness.” (James 1:17). And now, as a blessing, let us absorb the words of St. Paul in Ephesians 1:2-3, “May God Himself, the heavenly Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, release grace over you, and impart peace, wholeness and total well-being into your lives. What a blessing He is! For every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm has already been lavished upon us as a love gift from our wonderful heavenly Father.” Yes, our Father continues to work in our world, blessing everything in sight, and everything out of sight too.

(5.)  Observing. Scripture again and again refers to the eyes of God, but He is a formless Spirit! The Father is always observing everything that goes on in His world, but He doesn’t have a body with eyes. Of course not, you say. God doesn’t have human features like a face, even though we ask that His face shine upon us. And He doesn’t have a mighty arm or an outstretched hand, even though that is what is imagined when He delivered the people of Israel from Egypt. But how else can we explain at a human level what God does? We have limits to our imagination, to our comprehension. So God’s eyes are symbols that help us to understand what God does. His eyes indicate that God is fully aware of everything, and knowledgeable of all things in the universe. Saying that God has eyes helps us to understand His awareness, His knowledge, His ability to judge rightly because He sees all things correctly, perfectly. God’s eyes represent His ability to gaze at the world while also probing and peering into the heart and mind of every creature on earth. When John witnessed the heavenly Jesus in Revelation 1:14, Christ had blazing eyes, able to purify impurities in the light of His knowledge. God sees everything. He saw the miserable Hagar on the run from Sarah. The Father was well aware of Hagar, and Hagar responded with a profound observation… “You are the God who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13). So Hagar called God, El-roi, the God who sees. Through faith the Father approaches us as well, and we could also call Him El-roi.

A survey of Scripture reveals that the Father is always working as His eyes range throughout the whole earth (Zech 4:10); nothing is hidden from God’s sight (Heb. 4:13); even our motives are exposed to His divine gaze (1 Cor. 4:5); He looks to and fro over the earth to strengthen the believers (2 Chron. 16:9); He will guide us by His perfect eyesight (Ps. 32:8); the eyes of the Lord look for the righteous but also surveys the earth as He seeks to save the lost (Ps. 34:15 and Ezek. 34:11); He is able to see us as embryos in the womb (Ps. 139:16). Yes, nothing escapes His attention, as all our ways are in full view of the Lord (Prov. 5:21). The Father is always working as He observes everything and everyone. When feeling unnoticed, we all need to live into the fact that God the loving Father notices everyone, including you. The Father overlooks no one.

(6.)  Listening. According to St. John, who is quoting Jesus, God is spirit (John 4:24). Since God is in the form, or rather the formlessness of a spirit, we assume the almighty Yahweh doesn’t have human features. It doesn’t make sense, of course, that a spirit would literally have ears with which to hear. Yet how else can we explain at a human level that God can intervene with His presence because He is aware of everything in the world? God’s actions are described in human terms, because that’s all we know. That’s the limit of our imagination. The acute hearing ability of a spirit without ears is another world from our human experience.

Take the hearing ability of God, for example. The Hebrew Bible is full of references to God’s ability to hear humans when they pray, when they seek to be heard by God. It is a matter of faith that God has the ability and desire to listen to us. Once again, we are outside of human understanding. The fact is that God’s hearing transcends words. Our prayers don’t have to be carefully constructed as if from an English professor. God first listens to the heart, then the words. He is able to listen to what is going on in the heart as He hears the thoughts of our mind. God’s radar is constantly in the “on” position, ready to listen to whatever we think or say, with or without words. God’s fingers, in other words, is constantly on the pulse of the heart. God’s ears are always open, even if He doesn’t actually have ears.

We trust that God hears our prayers, even before we speak. “It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24). A common refrain in the Psalms is the firm belief that God would hear their prayers: “His ears are attentive;” “Does He who implanted the ear not hear?” “I have called aloud to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me.” “The Lord will hear when I call to Him;” “Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard my supplication.” “God surely listened.” And we have a standing promise from the Lord… “Call to me and I will answer.” (Jer. 33:3).

Perhaps we believe through faith that God listens to us, that he hears our prayers when we are able to articulate them. But what about praying without words? When we are unable to put words together, or the times when words are simply not enough to communicate what is on our heart? Are wordless prayers a legitimate way to be heard by God? Yes, the Scripture is clear that God hears our groans and sighs, just as He did when He heard the groans and cries of the Israelites in Egypt (Ex. 2:23-24). And He is truly listening when we inarticulately cry in distress (Gen 16:11) or laugh with joy (Ps. 126:1-2). If all we can do is groan cry or laugh, remember that God knows each of us at the heart level, He knows what we mean to say if we had the words. Father God continues to work hard as He hears our hearts.

As Jesus said, the Father never stops working. He continues to create, sustain, renew, bless, observe, and listen. “The One who watches over you is not asleep! Your Guardian will not slumber! For the One who keeps you will never slumber or sleep.”  (Psalm 121:4).