By Bill Harley
In Jean’s and my studies of the world’s Holy Books over the last fifty years, we came across a statement made by Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, which really got our attention. When one of His followers asked Him how to reconcile the concepts of free-will and fate, Muhammad said, “Trust in God, but tie your camel!”
When you consider that Muhammad was teaching warring desert tribes during the 6th and 7th Centuries AD, the reference to “tie your camel” couldn’t have been more tailored to the consciousness of His listeners; but, it also got our attention as an amazingly succinct statement to all people of faith about how to live their lives.
Jean and I interpret Muhammad’s statement to mean that we must strongly trust in God’s guidance in our lives and strive to align our wills with His will for us; but, we must also do the due diligence to address the details of life and strive for the outcomes we are seeking. When we are doing our best to maintain our lives while addressing and resolving our problems, the remaining problems that we can’t control are probably sent by God for our perfecting. On the other hand, if we are not doing our due diligence in this way, it’s almost impossible to determine which problems are of our own making and which are sent by God to stimulate our growth.
I had a recent series of experiences in which Muhammad’s guidance proved very helpful to me. I plan to tell a more detailed version of this story in a future blog, but here is the short version.
I was having problems with my eyesight, which related to glaucoma, cataracts and severe dry eye. My eye doctor of some years didn’t seem to be staying on top of my condition. I realized this when I went to my primary care physician for my annual physical and his first words to me were, “What’s going on with your eyes?” He sent me to a different eye doctor for a second opinion, and I spent 6 months under his care while he treated only one symptom: the severe dryness in my eyes, which improved only moderately.
Meanwhile, everyone I interacted with commented on the redness of my eyes; and I sensed that the vision in my right eye was getting more blurry. I grew increasingly anxious about my condition and prayed with rising intensity to God for guidance in finding the right doctor (trust in God). But I also read research about my condition, shared my struggles with people who might be knowledgeable about my condition, and searched for a specialist that could resolve my issues (tie your camel).
Then, about 90 days ago, I encountered an acquaintance who spontaneously praised her doctor for the resolution of her eye conditions; and her conditions closely mirrored mine. I immediately went to this doctor. He resolved the severe dryness in my eyes in one visit; quantified the amount of vision loss that had occurred in my right eye while the other doctors had been treating only symptoms; and did surgery on my right eye to halt the vision loss.
In the aftermath of all this, one of my adult daughters recently said to me, “How worried are you still about the condition of your eyes?” My response was, “Not very worried. Muhammad said, ‘Trust in God, but tie your camel!’ Now that I have this excellent new eye doctor, I feel like I have tied my camel. If I remain under his care and do all the things he tells me to do to care for my eyes, then any other decline in my eyesight must be something God has planned to spur my spiritual growth. Now, I just need to trust in God.”
To better understand how to trust in God, but tie your camel, read Jean’s and my first book, Now That I’m Here, What Should I Be Doing?
To better understand how to make the decisions that enable you to tie your camel while trusting in God, read our second book, TRANSFORMED: How to Make the Decisions That Change Your Life