Friday, September 5, 2014

What We Want

Yellowonion-edit1.jpgWhen my aunt was a little girl, she was a stubborn thing.  (That particular trait tends to gallop in my family.)  She was convinced that the onion my grandmother was peeling for supper was an apple, and by golly she wanted a bite.  She kept asking for that "apple" over and over until her mamma got tired of hearing it and gave her that onion.  Unwilling to admit her mistake, my aunt took a large bite, handed the onion back calmly, and tears streaming down her face, chewed and swallowed it.  That was the last time she nagged my grandmother for food she was prepping.

Sometimes our parents will let us have the thing that might not be the very best thing for us, both to get us to hush and to teach us a lesson that "mommy knows best."  Did you know God sometimes does that too?  It seems odd to think of God allowing us to have something bad just because we ask for it, but the Bible is full of examples of him doing just that. 

Do you remember the story of the quail God provided for the wandering Israelites? Far from being the cute Sunday school lesson we often think of, this is a story of an irritated God.  He had been feeding his people with manna from heaven, but the children of Israel were unhappy about the lack of variety in their diet, so they whined for meat.  (Read Numbers 11:4-6 and you can almost hear the whine in their voices!)  I'll paraphrase God's response: "You want meat?  Fine.  I'll give you meat till it comes out your nose.  You'll hate the very sight of meat when we're done."  While it may sound like God was throwing a hissy fit, I believe He had a definite purpose in mind to teach his children to be grateful for the gifts he'd given them instead of whining for the things he didn't.  Unfortunately, the Israelites were even more stubborn than my aunt, and it took more lessons for them to learn not to complain.

How about when Israel asked for a king?  God's perfect plan was for him to be their king, but they wanted to be like all the nations around them.  Even though they were rejecting God, he let them have what they wanted, but not before Samuel gave them a long list of problems that a king would bring: a king would conscript their children into the army and take other children to be gardeners and cooks; he'd tax their land and the produce of their land and they would cry out to the Lord because of the king (1 Samuel 8:10-13).  The people did not listen and demanded a king anyway, and in three generations, everything Samuel had prophesied had come to pass (1 Kings 12:4). 

God's character doesn't change.  He'll still let us have the things our hearts so desperately desire, even when those things are not the best. He won't stop a young lady from marrying that charming man, even if he isn't a Christian (2 Corinthians 6:14).  I've known women who have prayed to find the right man, and then assumed that their prayer had been answered because they fell in love.  They've justified their choice by saying they can bring their husband to Christ. Sometimes these stories have a happy ending, but more often than not, these young ladies are in for a world of heartache.

God will also let a church go deeply into debt to build a beautiful auditorium.  When church growth seems elusive, and we think we could get more people to come if we only had a prettier building, it's tempting to put the cart before the horse and depend on those phantom church members to pay off the debt in the future.  If God allows the loan to go through, then it must be his will, right? We know from Scripture, though, that debt is to be avoided (Proverbs 22:7, 6:1-5), and I know of more than one congregation that actually lost members after going millions in debt.  We cannot assume that just because events fall into place to let us do what we want that God must want us to have it too. 

So should the young lady in love resign herself to a life of loneliness?  Should a church stop trying to grow?  Of course not, but God's answer to our desires is always better than our own.  What should the girl looking for a husband, or the church looking to grow do?  Follow Solomon's advice
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
My aunt should have listened when her mamma told her that she really didn't want to bite that onion, but she didn't trust her mother's judgment.  In the same way, if I want to have the very best for my life, then I need to trust my Savior's judgment and let him guide me. 


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