I grew up hearing the term “the missing link” a lot. My dad was a police detective for almost four decades and I can remember him often talking about the need to find “the missing link”. Even as a child, I could sense his frustration when they were close to taking a bad guy off the street but were just missing one critical piece of information to nail a case shut. I can also remember that sly grin when he talked about them finally finding “the missing link”. I grew up understanding that “the missing link” was a big deal.
When I look at the turmoil in our world today, I sometimes wonder about “the missing link”. Could there be one critical missing factor that would really make a difference?
Is there something that could impact the stress and strains in our marriages and families today? Is there a common factor that is hurting the effectiveness of our businesses and churches? Is there any answer to the chaos that we call politics?
Since this is a Christian forum, you probably think that I am headed toward some great point of revelation about Jesus being “the missing link” in our lives and society. That would really be a great point to make. That is indeed the origin of a great deal of our problems. But unfortunately, we find turmoil among Christians also. So is there some other common denominator that might be “the missing link”?
MAYBE THE MISSING LINK IS COOPERATION.
Uh-oh. I feel a sense that you are underwhelmed! You are probably tempted to stop reading right here if this is the best answer I’ve got. You already know cooperation makes your marriage and family life better. No question that your workplace or church would be better if everyone cooperated. You are rightfully questioning my sanity to even consider that there will ever again be cooperation in politics!
After all, you are not the problem. It’s everyone else that needs to read this– Right?
But what if cooperation really is “the missing link”? What if there is one specific cooperation that influences every other type of cooperation? What if there is some lack of cooperation that impacts us all at one time or another whether we believe it or not?
There is. It’s . . .
COOPERATION WITH GOD!
My favorite examples of this are found in studying the miracles performed for people by Jesus as recorded in the book of John. A review of each of these miracles indicates at least some small point of cooperation on the part of the recipient of the miracle. Every single time.
If studying the Bible is not a part of your life, I would encourage you to take a little time checking out these miracles for yourself and seeing if you can spot those little points of cooperation. Even if the Bible is not of interest to you, this can be a fun exercise. I promise.
So if history is any indication, it seems logical to me to assume that God generally does not force miracles on us. Most often, His miracles require some level of cooperation on our part.
Is it possible that the miracle you have ben seeking is being hindered by a lack of cooperation with God?
Recently, my family and I experienced a period of about three months of unexpected, overpowering blessings, wave upon wave, in multiple areas of our lives. We were truly brought to our knees in awe of God’s power to orchestrate transformation in incredible ways. The working of God was unmistakable and unexplainable by any human understanding.
But this season of blessings followed a season of about three years where it was difficult for us to see God working in our lives. Certainly, we were blessed and never lost faith in our God, but we just did not feel his overwhelming power manifested in our daily lives. During this time, we had struggled with extreme bitterness over a hurt that would not heal. The truth is that in this bitterness we became less cooperative with God over time. And that lack of cooperation clearly had an impact.
Fortunately, God unexpectedly cracked open a door of possible reconciliation to address the bitterness. But it was still up to us to cooperate. He miraculously laid out some circumstances to facilitate the emotional healing, but He did not complete the healing without our cooperation with him in the process. That cooperation involved separate unmistakable spiritual nudges for my wife and me to follow.
Fortunately, we cooperated. Almost instantly things began to change in us. Within a matter of hours, the waves and waves of God’s presence in our lives became abundantly powerful. It was as if the blessings had been there all along but our delayed cooperation with God finally released them.
Is it possible that there are blessings in your life that are being hindered by a lack of cooperation with God.
Possibly. So, the big question is—
HOW DO WE TRULY COOPERATE WITH GOD?
I wish that I could give you a formula to follow.
I wish that I could outline a step-by-step program.
I can’t do that, but I can share with you something that I have found to be critical to me in maintaining a spirit of cooperation with God. It is something that I think applies whether you are a seasoned follower of Christ or not a follower at all.
Maybe you don’t know what to believe about Jesus – this can help.
Maybe you are fully confident in your faith but still struggling in some aspect of your life – this can help.
The most critical step that I have found to be in cooperation with God is to intentionally place myself in environments where I can be influenced.
There are times that I really don’t feel like it. There are periods where it feels like a waste of time. But if I want to live a life of cooperation with God, I have found that it is helpful for me to place myself intentionally in these environments:
- An environment of spiritual learning – this can be Bible study, daily devotionals, blogs, podcasts, or whatever. Sure, the Bible is best, but the important thing is to just get started somewhere. At least a few minutes each day.
- An environment of awareness of God’s presence – there are places that I just naturally feel God’s presence more than at other places. The most prominent place for me to feel the presence of God is in church. I simply cannot live in cooperation with God without attending church. Believe me, I’ve tried, and it didn’t work for me.
- An environment of spiritual thinking – I find it necessary to force a few minutes of quiet time each day to just try to focus on spiritual thoughts. Some might call this meditation, but I just call it thinking. For me, I incorporate that time into my daily walks.
- An environment of spiritual communication – I don’t see how we could ever hope to cooperate with God without communicating with God. Maybe prayer does not come easy for you. Maybe you don’t think you can do it right. Don’t focus on doing it right, just focus on getting the conversation started.
- An environment of godly relationships – I have found that my cooperation with God is heavily impacted by the influence of godly people in my life. I’ve tried to do it on my own, but it never worked out well. God’s influence in my life is often channeled through the influence of godly people. Another reason why church is so important to me.
I have found that if I continually and intentionally place myself in these environments, I allow God to influence my life.
If I allow God to influence my life, it facilitates my cooperation with him.
If I more fully cooperate with him, it positively impacts every aspect of my life.
Maybe, cooperation really is “the missing link”.