Richard L. Floyd
"We do not know what to do; but our eyes are on you." - 2 Chronicles 20:12
Jehoshaphat, the fourth king of Judah, facing a great army of neighboring Moabites and surrounding nations marching together against Judah, stood in the courtyard of the temple and prayed:
"O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do; but our eyes are upon you."
It turned out that the members of the enemy confederacy began to quarrel and fought against each other instead of Judah, and thus Jehoshaphat and his people were spared.
It took many years in the ministry for me to be able to say, "I don't know what to do," but it was something of a turning point for me. It is true that most of the challenges and predicaments I faced were small potatoes compared to Jehoshaphat's. I never had to watch the advance of a mighty army coming at me, although I did have some tough committee meetings.
But Jehoshaphat's prayer is still a mighty good one in any end-of-our-rope situation. The boiler breaks, the roof flies off, factions emerge, the pledge campaign falls short, attendance is down, agreement can't be reached on what everybody agrees is an important moral issue. What to do?
There is often a certain kind of functional atheism that creeps into the way we do business in the church. We might open our meeting with a prayer, but we fully expect to take care of business ourselves.
How much wiser we would be at times to pray, "We do not know what to do; but our eyes are on you." And then wait; wait until we can faithfully move into God's new future with fresh eyes and expectant hearts.
O our God, when we don't know what to do, lift up our heads that we may take our eyes off the small stuff, and focus instead on you.
Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and author of A Course In Basic Christianity and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross: Reflections on the Atonement. He blogs at richardlfloyd.com.