Lack: to be without or deficient in. Need: a condition marked by the lack of something required. Now, if we are all honest here, we all lack things on occasion, having a little less than what we really need in order to meet some condition or required action in our lives. We might come close, but we still don't have it all. In some respects I think this might be because God wants us to learn to rely upon each other a little - because no one person is really able to do everything by themselves. If you ever saw the movie in which Tom Hanks portrays a pilot for one of those overnight delivery services whose plane crashes and he is forced to spend a long period of time on a deserted island all by himself, you know how "mad" you can go when you lack human contact for any real length of time. Once we come to appreciate how much we actually need each other, we would find ourselves very distraught if this contact was taken away. Imagine for a moment what it would be like to have such a relationship with our heavenly Father - needing him to make up what is lacking in our lives. If that were taken away from us for any period of time, what would it be like for us? To be honest, some might not even realize the difference! Why? They have excluded God from their daily lives for so long, relying upon their own industrious ways to craft every answer to their need or lack in life. Herein is the issue - by the very admission we have a need or lack something, we are admitting we actually don't have all it takes! Many don't want to show that "weak" side of themselves to anyone - even God himself!
If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won’t correct you for asking. James 1:5 CEV
Yesterday we explored the significance of asking, seeking, and knocking - three actions which actually engage us in purposeful activity toward obtaining something from God or in the discovery of his truths in our lives. Today, we are again reminded to ask God - for he is generous and won't put us off, tell us we are wrong for asking, or shame us for asking. As a kid, I would sometimes hesitate to ask my parents for some privilege - like going to a friend's house for a slumber party or buying school lunches from the cafeteria instead of brown-bagging it. In time, I found if I wanted to do these things, I had to be "creative" about how I accomplished them. If I am to be totally transparent with you here, I actually developed some pretty bad schemes to accomplish the school lunch thing including some not very honest ways of getting the cash to do it! This is probably why it is so important to ask God for what it is we feel is lacking in our lives rather than developing our own plan on how to get it! We won't be as inclined to do things through "creative means"!
I know this passage speaks specifically to "wisdom", but I think we can interpret this a little more broadly than just "wisdom". In context, this verse is sandwiched right between a reminder to be glad when we encounter troubles in our lives because they build our faith, and having faith to receive what it is we have need of in this life. So, if we consider it in context, God is really trying to show us we can ask for what it is we see as our present "need" - those things or abilities we "lack" in a particular situation which are really "required". Now, to be honest here, we ask for a whole lot of stuff which is really "nice", but it is not "required". For a car to run, it needs gasoline. It doesn't need a stereo system or air conditioning! For us to walk upright, we need legs. We don't need designer boots or stilettos! You get my drift here, don't you? We ask for stuff - when God is really asking us to depend upon him. Wisdom is what we need to get us to the point of realizing what our true "need" is!
I am also encouraged by this part of the passage which deals with us not being afraid to ask - because God won't "correct" us for asking. Even if we get this asking thing a little mixed up (wants vs. needs), there is this tremendous love God has for us to listen, sort through our list of "asks" and help us to recognize what it is which is really "requisite" to our circumstances. He doesn't shame us by scolding us for asking - he pulls us closer and helps us to see what our true needs are as we listen to the beat of his heart! It is amazing how much I find all my "needs" melt away in the presence of God - his heartbeat clarifying for me what it is exactly that I needed most - more of his presence! If we are honest here, we need more "wisdom" - and if we are to be clear here - wisdom is a person (Jesus), not a thing! When I am frazzled and kind of just unclear about what to do next, I have a good friend who just knows I need a hug. She just reaches our an embraces me. Now, to you this may not seem like a big deal, but in that short embrace more is spoken and accomplished than she probably knows. Why? Connection creates peace!
Connecting with our heavenly Father in the expression of our needs is not only a way to have those needs met, it is a way of settling the heart! In connecting with him - through the process of bringing our needs to him - we are coming into a place where he can bring peace into our minds long enough to help us clarify our needs. This is why he requires us to ask - not so he can correct us, but so he can allow us to be settled, assured, and at peace with what it is we truly will find "requisite" in our lives! Just sayin!