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Spiritual Life

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DEVOTION

Thank You In Advance

By Beth Patch
CBN.com Internet Producer


CBN.comDuring our worship service a man stood up on the other side of the room and offered up prayer for some people who I don’t know. In his prayer he said the words, “and thank You in advance.”

That short phrase, “and thank You in advance,” reminded me of some growing times in my life when the sentiment of being grateful for what had not happened yet was essential to my life. As I look back, it is clear that this little phrase made a big difference in my life. When we are certain that God’s plan will be done in our lives and pray and believe in a manner that demonstrates our faith in His ability, His timing and His love for us, it must bless God’s heart. As well, it keeps our focus on the goal and gives us hope.

At a point in my life when I had rededicated my life to Christ a couple years earlier, I enjoyed a healthy appetite for God’s Word. And I would sit in my bed reading the Bible and smoking a cigarette. I had tried to quit smoking many times, some before I surrendered my life to Christ and some after. The Lord had helped me get rid of some other bad habits that I had nursed since college. But, smoking cigarettes was still with me.

As I read God’s Word, I would write in my journal the things I believed God and I had communicated during this time of reading and prayer. For over a year I made entries in my journal saying that I knew that some day He would take smoking from me and I looked forward to that day. I was thanking Him in advance.

I had already discovered, like many who have a sin that has taken hold of them, that I was a captive. I couldn’t stop on my own. If pure self-will could have accomplished that task in my life, smoking would have been gone a long time before then.

Sometimes I felt like a hypocrite, reading the Bible, praying and lighting up. I repeatedly asked for forgiveness for treating God’s temple in such a manner and received it because our God is gracious and full of forgiveness.

But I also received a calm, nurturing presence who assured me that one day I would be free from this and I knew it would some day be my reality. My spirit was often reminded that God molds us, like the potter with his clay. It takes time. Gently and assuredly we are molded into who Christ wants us to be. The clay doesn’t know what it’s going to be, because it’s just clay. But we have a promise that we are being conformed to Christ’s likeness. See Romans 8:29.

As I remained in God’s Word and spent time with Him, He did eventually break my smoking habit. I can remember my very first dramatic moment without my smoking crutch, crying in the shower over I don’t know what now, because it’s been so long ago; Hallelujah! 

But, I remember crying out to the Lord and saying, “I don’t know how to handle this! I don’t have any of the other things that I used to use to help me calm down, to help me cope!” I sobbed.

And I didn’t hear this audibly, but I heard this in my soul: God said, “Finally! Now you can turn to me alone.”

To some who have been blessed to never have felt enslaved to anything, such an epiphany may seem trivial. But to those of us who have spent years, decades or lifetimes coping with life by turning to something other than Christ, the freedom is beyond notable.

For anyone who has accepted Christ into their life and are seeking to know Him more, but still struggle to get rid of an ungodly habit or behavior in their life, you can be sure that the Potter has it in His plan to cleanse you from it. Go ahead and thank Him in advance for what you know He’s going to do. He’s continually busy conforming us and He’s not done yet with any of us yet.

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BethBeth Patch serves a producer for CBN.com. For more articles and info, visit Beth's bio page.

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