when my Grace-girl asked me what I was going to write about in this blog, I told her it would be something along the lines of expanded Facebook status updates. You know what this means, right? Redundancy, over-sharing of minute details of my life, lots of quotes, and random other things that take my fancy.
Mm-hm, yeah. *nods*
I was thinking last night and this morning about how I am far, far too apt to put God in a bottle. I’ve realized that so shamefully often I revert to thinking of him as some sort of magic genie, who will occasionally grant wishes – answer prayers – but oftentimes at a great cost, with some kind of perverse twist. We’ve all read the stories and seen the movies where the genie is a sly trickster, and if you aren’t incredibly clever in phrasing your request, your wish ends up backfiring on you.
Last night I found myself very carefully phrasing a prayer. You know, better be careful to stick some caveats and specifications in there! Can’t let God trick you! It was all very unconscious at first, and then I realized what I was doing. Trying to outsmart God. Trying to be just a little more clever than him.
Um…what? Really, Self?
And I remembered these verses from Matthew 7:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
God is not a trickster.
And then I was thinking (trying to justify myself here, you see!), well, what if God’s idea of what is good is something that’s actually horrible and hard and all the bitterness of medicine but it’s okay because it’s for my good? Can’t I just skip all that and just go right to what we both agree is good?
Yes, I’m quite sure that sometimes what I think is good doesn’t exactly line up with what God says is good. And there are valuable lessons in realizing that, and in going through the hard times. There’s value in hearing God say this is not my will for you, and beauty in learning to bend to accede and whisper Yes, Abba. Thy will be done. But like the fathers in the passage above, God doesn’t give the snake instead of the fish and say, until you have learned to be grateful and appreciate the snake, you are not deserving of anything better.
Sometimes, to my shame (but if I write, I promised myself to write without varnish) I have a hard time believing in the goodness of God. But it’s a poor father who gives their child exactly what they want, all the time. God is good. I know this. But sometimes I need to stop and realize it anew; let it wash over me like golden June sunlight. God didn’t have to make flowers. He didn’t have to make clouds of fog that hang low over the water and take my breath away when I drive to work, or autumns that blaze with incandescent color. He didn’t have to make beauty, or laughter, or emotions, or the senses. But he did. And it is good.