Words of Healing “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” – Jesus (Matt 24:35).

17Jul/000

Life’s Little Lessons: Ask and Receive?

The other day, my "little" nephew, Willie--as he was over at my house--saw me getting some ice cream for myself. I saw him whisper something in my sister's ear and then my sister asked me if he could have some ice cream. I was happy to oblige, so I got a bowl and began scooping him some ice cream.

When he came around for the ice cream, I asked him, "What do you say?"

But in response he remained silent and walked over by my sister. Over the next minute or two we tried to get him to simply ask me for the ice cream--just to ask. I already had the ice cream made for him. I wanted to give him some ice cream, but I wanted him to ask me, not my sister, for the ice cream because it was mine to give.

Unfortunately, he never asked, and so I ate ice cream all by myself. I know that this may sound cruel to some--that I ate ice cream in front of him and never gave him any. However, all he had to do was to ask me for it and I would have given him more than a four year old should be allowed to eat in one sitting. Sometimes I will give him stuff even when someone else asks for him. This time, though, I wanted him to feel comfortable--and trust me enough--to ask me himself. The lesson for that day was that I had something he wanted and I wanted to give it to him, and all he had to do was to ask. Because of the fact that I asked him to ask me, I didn't feel it was appropriate to give any to him until he asked.

I genuinely wanted to give him the ice cream, and I even felt a little hurt myself that he did not ask me and that I did not get the opportunity to enjoy watching him enjoy my ice cream. As I contemplated all of this, I thought of the spiritual implications. How often does God have a gift that He wants to give me--if only I'll ask? How many times have I refused to ask God for something that He has wanted to give to me? How often was He unable to give me something because I was unwilling to humble myself and say, "Please Father...?"

 


When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (James 4:3, NIV).

My niece on the other hand is quite the opposite. A month before this time with my nephew, my niece had no hesitation asking me for anything and everything when I took her to McDonald's for breakfast. When we got to McDonald's, she not only asked me for the pancakes that I was going to get her but she asked for ice cream, cookies, and anything else she could think of with sugar in it. Now as every uncle knows, we can buy these things for our nieces and nephews with no fear of consequences because we can drop them off with the parents and let the parents deal with the sugar rush. However, as an uncle that wants to have a healthy niece and nephews, I try not to take such liberties. So, I told her she could have pancakes but not any of the other stuff. I ordered a Big Breakfast and an order of pancakes and then we went to the playground. She ate the sausage from the Big Breakfast, a bite of the hash brown, and two of the three pancakes. So, she got more sugar than just about anything else, but that was alright.

Of course, she asked me for the ice cream and cookies a multitude of times after I told her no, but once I have made my decisions, they remain firm. I would not get all those things for her, not because I don't want her to have good things to enjoy but because all of that sugar would not be good for her. While my mom is surprised that as an uncle I don't cave in easier with my niece's "persuasions," it is no surprise to me because my main concern is that my niece and nephews grow up into healthy adults with healthy habits.

So, thinking about these two situations, I see the balance that God wants us to know. He wants to give us good things when we ask for them but His main concern is that we are healthy--healthy spiritually and emotionally as well as physically. God may give us good gifts, but He will not give us good gifts at the expense of our relationship with him because those things would not be good at all. God will give us--wants to give us--good things, blessings beyond what we can imagine, but he does not want to give us things that will take us away from the greatest thing of all--His love. Desserts once in awhile are truly a blessing, but three desserts in one sitting may lead to a stomach ache, a lack of appreciation for the dessert itself, and at the very least--one very hyper niece. So, while my niece was thinking of what she wanted for the moment, I was thinking about what she needed for a healthy life.

So, the next time you want to ask God for something, don't hesitate to ask Him for it, but remember His right to say no. If He says no, then there is likely a very good reason, because while we can only see the present and base our actions from what we have learned in the past, God sees eternity, and He knows our needs before we even ask. So, we are not to go on using as many words as we can to try to convince God that we need what we are asking for--He knows our needs (Matt. 6:7-8). He is the perfect Father, and He will give you abundantly more than you could ever ask for but not always what you want at the moment.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matt 7:7-11 NIV)

Those who have used the verse above to say that God wants us to be rich in this life, etc., and we only need to ask, do not understand the verse at all. It says that God won't give us a rock if we ask for bread or a snake if we ask for a fish. It doesn't say that God will give us more than we absolutely need, nor does it say that if we asked for a candy bar that God would give one to us--a good father might give desserts at times, but is more concerned with the child eating healthy food and even then, not too much. So, in order to understand how God gives gifts, we should remember how dads give gifts. A father who gives too many material possessions--spoils his child, and a father that never provides for his child's needs--abuses his child. God is in the balance, providing what we need for eternity with Him--and any "good" gift that you receive that takes you away from that focus on Him is not a "good" gift at all and is not from God, rather it is a distraction from the true gift that God intends for you.

"When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

"Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:13-17 NIV, emphasis mine)


Works Cited

The Holy Bible:  New International Version. Nashville, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995.

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