What if The Devil Isn’t in the Details, But God Is?

aga7ta / Thinkstock

John Wesley’s life was ordered with meticulous detail. He was so concerned with how he used his time that Wesley identified how much (or rather how little) sleep he needed each night and planned his schedule accordingly. A short scan of Wesley’s journal reveals that he rose before dawn to spend hours in focused prayer. John Fletcher, a companion of Wesley’s, once wrote, “[Wesley’s] diligence is matchless. . . . As he begins the day, the week, the year, so he concludes them, still intent upon extensive services for the glory of the Redeemer and the good of souls.” John Wesley saw each and every day as a gift from God and intentionally used his time for God’s glory.

I have often heard it said: “The devil is in the details.” What if it is not the devil but God who is in the details? An intentional, faithful life, like that of Wesley’s, doesn’t occur about without a great deal of intention. If practiced rightly, a disciplined life can lead us closer to God.

There is no doubt that, taken to an extreme, discipline can become rote, regimented, and an impediment to growth in God’s grace. Wesley understood this. In his sermon “The Means of Grace,” he describes various ways in which we can connect to God through scripture reading, prayer, regular worship, etc. But in his conclusion, Wesley cautions us, “Remember also to use all means as means; as ordained, not for their own sake, but in order to the renewal of your soul in righteousness and true holiness.”

How would your life be different if you more intentionally cared for your soul each day? I wouldn’t be surprised if you found God in the details.


Thad Austin is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, a PhD candidate at Indiana University's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and William and Edie Enright Fellow at The Lake Institute on Faith and Giving. Thad also serves as Editor of the Church Leader Collective for Seedbed. Thad served as Executive Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In his free time, Thad loves to travel (41 countries and all 50 states, thus far), hike (has hiked the 1,100 miles between Pennsylvania and Georgia), sail, and spend time with friends.