Formulaic God? NOT!

by Kathy Collard Miller

At a women’s retreat, a woman named Allison asked me, “What should I do when my husband says …?”

I gently responded, “If I gave you a formula to follow, how would that leave out God?”

At first, she was startled. “I just want to know how to head off a fight. What’s so bad about that?”

“I understand that, but how would that leave out God?”

After a few moments, she replied, “Well, I guess I could just depend upon the formula rather than looking to God.”

“That’s right. You would miss an opportunity to abide. Jesus said he only did what the Father told him to do. Do you think Jesus followed a formula? Was he always predictable?”

These thoughts were almost shocking to Allison. Since then I’ve begun making a list of the different ways Jesus responded as he abided in the Holy Spirit’s power. Wanting to do what his Father wanted him to do brought glory to God. Jesus’ varied responses reveal his care, love, and attention to the details of each person’s life. He knows them and is inviting them to know him.

Here are examples from the book of Mark. Jesus:

  • invited fishermen to become fishers of men (1:17)
  • rebuked demons (1:25)
  • took a sick woman’s hand (1:31)
  • healed the paralytic with a word of forgiveness (2:5)
  • reasoned with scribes who were reasoning … within themselves (Mark 2:8)
  • called Matthew with words “Follow me”! (2:14)
  • used parables to touch any receptive hearts (4:9)
  • hushed a storm (4:39)
  • allowed healing by a woman touching his hem (5:30)
  • invited disciples to participate in the provision of food (6:37)
  • walked on the sea to give peace and courage (6:50)
  • seemed like he was rejecting a Gentile woman before healing her daughter (7:27)

Additionally, in Luke 5:15-16, he left needy people behind to have a private time with the Father.

But my favorite example is Jesus’ sensitive response to the needs of a deaf and dumb man through sign language (Mark 7:31-37). Initially, the way Jesus responds to this man seems weird, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Theologian Sinclair Ferguson comments:

“The man could not hear Jesus and he was also incapable of verbal communication. So Jesus “spoke” to him in the language he could understand—sign language. The fingers placed in his ears and then removed meant, ‘I am going to remove the blockage in your hearing.’ The spitting and the touching of the man’s tongue meant, ‘I am going to remove the blockage in your mouth.’ The glance up to heaven meant, ‘It is God alone who is able to do this for you.’ Jesus wanted the man to understand that it was not magic but God’s grace that healed him.”

Jesus doesn’t respond with “one size fits all” actions. He chooses what’s best for each individual.

I would challenge you to make your own study of the different and unique ways God responds throughout the Bible. You’ll see his heart of love, grace, and other beautiful attributes. Remember, when you “see” Jesus in the New Testament, you are “seeing” God the Father.

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! Isaiah 43:1 NASB

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller is an award-winning author of over 50 books; this devotional is excerpted from Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory . She is a speaker who has shared in 8 foreign countries and over 30 US states. Kathy and Larry have been married for 48 years and are the parents of 2 and grandparents of 2. They live in Southern California and often write and speak together. Visit her at She would love to hear from you.

Photo by Roman Mager on Unsplash


4 thoughts on “Formulaic God? NOT!

  1. Kathy,

    Thanks for a very meaningful devotional. Abiding in Christ is what makes all the difference. We can then respond in creative ways to situations instead of following a formula.

    I liked how you showed a variety of ways Jesus followed God’s will.


  2. This is a great observation, sister, that Jesus’ actions to heal the deaf and blind man was in his language (signing). I like your main point, that there are various ways that He speaks into our hearts. Thanks for sharing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.