Someone once told me that God typically gives three answers to requests – 1) Yes, 2) No, and 3) Not yet. There’s something that I have requested from Him for years. Like Hannah, I have laid my heart before God in this one thing. And then, recently, I heard His response.
Honestly, it hurt deeply. What I wanted wasn’t bad. It something that many people want. It’s something that is a good thing. But it isn’t what’s best for me at this point in my life…and may never be.
It’s hard to reconcile when our desires, what we imagine to be good for our lives, isn’t what God says is the best for us. While God will allow us to make our choice and I could choose to fulfill my heart’s desire, I don’t want to live in His permissive will. There’s too much room for mediocrity there. I long for His perfect will because I know, in that, I will grow and find life.
Still, it can be painful to leave our heart’s desires on the alter. And I struggled terribly to walk away from that request fully.
Today I was reminded of a point I heard in a message once. There’s this passage in Matthew where Jesus is talking about prayer –
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
We typically focus on the fact that the Good Father gives good gifts. If we ask Him for a loaf, He will not give us a stone. If human fathers are can do it, just imagine how much our Heavenly Father will take care of us. And that’s very true. When we ask for what we need and it is what is best for us, God is faithful to provide that in His time and manner.
But what if we ask for the stone?
What if we ask for the snake?
What then? Does a good father give his children the thing they ask for, even when it may hurt or kill them? When it will not be the thing they need?
Our sovereign Father will not give us something that will ultimately hurt us any more than an earthly father would let his children play in bleach or give them poison ivy as a salad.
I am learning that our walk with God is all about learning that He is God, that He is holy, that He is loving – beyond my comprehension. I am continuing to learn that this God who calls me His own expects holiness from me and that holiness requires brokenness in me – it requires refining in me. This Abba Father accepts me as I was, as I am, but calls me beyond that.
Sometimes that means no to what I deeply want.
When I ask for the stone, the answer is clearly no. When I ask for the snake, the answer is no. When I want to live beyond God’s perfect will, the answer is no. Our good Father only gives good gifts meant to help me become more like Christ. I may think that my heart’s desire is good for me, but God knows that it isn’t what I need in my life, that He has another purpose.
My challenge now is to walk away, to leave that desire on the alter, and to rely on God to do this with a cheerful heart. My challenge is to remember to call Him good and faithful even when I don’t feel it. My challenge is to remember that God is I AM and I am not.