Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's Never Really Our Choice

I do a lot of thinking any time of the year—in fact, too much by most people’s estimation. But I think that balances out what I see as too little thinking—the curse of contemporary civilization.

At this time of the year especially, I like to think about asking. That’s what we’re encouraged to do as children—we ask Santa to fulfill our Christmas desires. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

You see, I’m a firm believer in reading the operator’s manuals that come with most implements. When you buy a new TV, new car, new blender, new iPhone—you’ve got to read the instructions before operating. And how many times have you heard it said that life doesn’t come with operating instructions?

Well I think it does. I think it’s all spelled out quite clearly in the Sermon on the Mount. If you just follow the Gospel of Matthew, chapters five through seven, you’ll have those operating instructions. It even tells us about asking.

In Matthew Chapter seven, Verse seven, Christ clearly states, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asks; receives.”

So we ask. We ask for Barbie dolls, baseball gloves, footballs, and toy trucks when we’re kids, but we never really stop asking as we age. The presents just get a little more…esoteric. I personally would forego all the toys, gadgets, electronics, and even Superbowl tickets if I could just have the one wish at the top of my list: my family’s health and well-being. I always think to myself, “Is that too much to ask?”

After all, Jesus did say, “Ask and you shall receive.” So why doesn’t he keep his word? That’s one of the questions that always puzzled me, until a few years ago when a friend opened my eyes.

“God does answer all prayers—all requests,” she told me. “And it’s always one of three answers.”

“Oh this I’ve got to hear,” I told her. “What are his three answers?”

“Simple,” she explained. “He says, ‘yes,’ or he says, ‘not now,’ or he says, ‘I have something better.’

It suddenly all made sense to me. Christ didn’t say, Demand and you shall receive. He said ask. That means it’s not our choice. It never really is.

So, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of the author of the Sermon on the Mount, remember his operating instructions for life. Just don’t forget that they’re his instructions; not yours.

So ask away. It’s the season for asking. Your timetable may not be the same as his. And of course, he could always have something better in mind for you.

Just be patient. While you’re waiting, maybe you could log on to www.jimvanore.com.

It couldn’t hurt.

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