Ask and you shall receive. How can I doubt it?!
I woke up thinking of a line from Scripture, “Oh, you of little faith!” I didn’t remember where it came from, only that it was something my mom and grandma used to say, and that it sure fit my doubt-filled frame of mind that was yesterday morning. I can see Mom and Grandma smiling at me right now, in that “told you so” kind of way.
When we pray, God hears.
And when those prayers are for things within His will, He is quick to give us what we ask for. Yesterday I closed up my SAP with a very specific prayer request. And He gave me an immediate and straightforward answer, the one that I most wanted to hear.
But that’s not the way it always goes. Sometimes He says NO; other times He says Wait. Not in a booming shout-out from heaven, but by shaping circumstances and sending “earth angels” as His messengers. We just need to recognize it when it’s happening, and for believers—for those of us who have put our faith in Jesus and do our best to follow Him—it’s always happening.
There are no coincidences. It’s all God.
But until we can see His hand at work, His NO’s are hard to take. The “old me” would simply force my way through doors that had been slammed shut. Or I’d pry open a window and sneak in. Either way, it never turned out well. When the Lord says NO, it’s for a good reason.
Wait is the hardest answer for me, probably for most of us. Especially when our “good” (vs. self-serving) prayers seem to go unanswered for years, sometimes decades. It’s hard not to just give up. Are You even listening, Lord?
He is. But God does things in His way and in His time, not ours.
In my moment of need, when I’m crying out to Him in prayer, neither NO nor Wait are the answers I want. But with hindsight—whether days or years worth, or the perspective that won’t come to us until we make it all the way to heaven—I’m so grateful that He didn’t give me what I wanted in that moment. Even when my prayers were good ones, way beyond my wants (Lord, don’t make me start a blog) straight to what I believed to be my needs, like please please please heal my marriage.
God doesn’t always give us what we ask for. Instead, He gives us what He knows to be best.
“Oh, you of little faith!”
Was I ever surprised just now when I finally opened up my third devotional of the day to find this very bit of Scripture right there in the story of Peter walking on water toward Jesus:
Matthew 14:30-31: “But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (NASB)
I can’t count the number of times I’ve quit because I got scared.
I set The Book aside off and on for nearly three years, convinced the story wasn’t worth sharing, and that even if it was, I certainly didn’t have the ability to write it well. And I postponed blogging until every other commitment I had was suddenly ripped away and I truly had nothing left in front of me but this empty web site.
Still I made excuses. And then the light went on (literally!) and that dangling cross started waving at me, and I knew that God’s hand was at work through all of it.
“You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Today’s InTouch devotional explains it so much better than I ever could:
When doubts prevent us from obeying God, we are doomed to failure. But when we step out in faith, God always assumes full responsibility for the consequences of our obedience.
The story of Peter’s walk on the sea teaches us three things.
• God will lead us into challenging situations that call us to walk by faith.
• Christ stands ready to rescue us when we cry out to Him.
• The Spirit of God will never let us fall beyond His reach.
Are you facing a situation that requires full trust in the Lord as you step out in obedience to Him? The real risk lies in your temptation not to obey Him. Keep your eyes on the heavenly Father, and He’ll see you safely to the other side. —Charles Stanley, Taking Risks of Faith – InTouch Ministries, 6/26/18
My prayer of yesterday wrapped up with this: “But Your will, not mine. Please just show me what to do with whatever comes next. Thank You, Father. I live in absolute trust that You know what You’re doing and that You will take care of me and my loved ones through it all. Amen.”
Within a few hours, His answer couldn’t have been more clear.
Good morning, Father. Thank You so much for the all of the YES’s that came one on top of the other yesterday. Thank You For chasing me down, for not letting up on me, and for making my next steps so clear when doubts began to overwhelm me.
Yet even in the midst of my morning quiet time with You, fear begins to creep in again, hitting me from another angle: My web developer has done his part; now I need to figure out how to do the rest by myself and I’m suddenly in a panic: Writing is one thing, but posting is quite another! And then there’s the matter of the proposal I gave up on six months ago that now suddenly needs to go out….
Lord, please calm my fears as I refocus on You, not on my circumstances. You’ve brought me this far; You’re surely not going to fail me now. Thank You for replacing my doubt with the memory of how many times You’ve picked me up out of whatever mess I’d gotten myself into and set me down exactly where I was meant to be.
I give You today, Father, and will rest in Your loving care. Amen.