So, yesterday I was sitting around the table with the other members of the battalion (To meet the battalion, check out https://kristinsnextchapter.com/2015/01/14/my-sweet-battalion/). We are one week short of finishing our study on The Sermon on the Mount. In discussing the section on Ask, Seek, Knock (Matthew 7:7-8) the question arose, “If God does not need to be encouraged, convinced, or coerced, why might He not answer a request made only once?”
Right? I mean, seriously, why can’t it be like a work-order system. I log-on and enter all my requests in the system and God just answers them ‘in the order they were received’ or even ‘the order of most importance’. I told Him about our financial issues. I told Him about my health. I told Him about my desire to work just a little bit more. So, He knows. He’ll get to it when He gets to it.
When I was teaching in St. Louis that was the system for getting things done. Our building supervisor wanted everything submitted through the system. He would clear it from the system when the issue was ‘resolved’. Why can’t God work like that? Why can’t I just wait for the email that says the problem has been ‘resolved’?
Well, let me tell you. I really appreciated our building supervisor. He did take care of issues that were entered into the system. He was also gracious enough to come ’emergency style’ when there was a spill or some other urgent matter. He did not complain. He came, he saw, he fixed. But I’ve got to be honest and tell you, that unless I had an issue, I didn’t really spend a lot of time talking to him. Sorry, Bob. I mean sometimes we ate lunch at the same table. His kids were in my classes. We went to the same staff functions. But I think Bob would agree that he and I were not best friends. I went to him when I had a specific need; he did his part to meet that need.
Is that the kind of relationship I want with God? Do I just want Him to respond to my needs?
One member of our battalion is Chinese. We were having this discussion yesterday and she said that our conversation reminded her of a Chinese tale. I will try my best to repeat what I heard. She said there were three brothers who were all doctors. The youngest of the brothers was the most famous doctor because he was known to cure patients who were near death. Many patients who had no other options came to this youngest brother doctor and were healed. His fame grew and grew. So one time he was taken (to the emperor? to the news station? I can’t remember.) Anyway, someone asked him who of the three brothers was the best? Certainly he was, right? The youngest brother doctor said, “No.” Certainly he had healed many people who were near death. And the second oldest brother had also cured many illnesses. But his oldest brother, he said, was the best because people came to him when they were still healthy, before they had a need, and he could tell them how to live in ways that would prevent illness and premature death. He, the youngest brother said, was certainly the best doctor.
My sweet Chinese friend said, “When we follow God’s Word, we avoid the consequences.”
I really wasn’t going to go to Bible study yesterday. I have been having a bad week. I am emotionally drained, physically struggling, and not up to interacting with others. But, it was my day to bring the fruit. Sigh. So, I stopped at the store to buy fruit and grudgingly carried it into the little classroom where we meet. We watched our video and discussed prayer, then as we closed, a woman across the table, who really doesn’t know the details of the internal storm that is raging in my head, offered prayer on my behalf. A melting occurred inside of me and my body began to sob.
I hadn’t put in that work order. But I have been going through my routine of Bible study and prayer for what I hope will one day amount to ten weeks (and then some). And in this position of need — in this posture of dependence on the One who knows what I need before I ask, I received peace in the midst of this ugly storm.
That, I think, is why God doesn’t always answer a request made only once. He knows that when we take this posture of dependence and need, He can meet us and heal us. He can lead us around situations that may otherwise lead to dire consequences.
I want to take that posture. I want to be dependent in a way that requires moment by moment acknowledgement of the One who cares for me so much that He is carrying me around in the palm of His hand.
Before they call, I will answer;
while they are yet speaking I will hear.