Monday, September 10, 2018

Not just the easy stuff

Do you ever ask questions, only to find you already knew the answer? Sometimes we ask the question because we want to be certain we do indeed have the right answer already, but there are times we really doubt that we do - making the question really kind of like a fact-finding mission. We ask, hoping to receive, but we aren't sure we will receive anything that we didn't already know. The questions we ask can be 'conditioned' on the type of answer we really want to receive. For example, if we ask only a very superficial question, we are probably seeking only a superficial answer. If we want to get to the nitty-gritty, down and dirty truth of the matter, we might just ask the harder questions. The answer is almost predicted by the question posed. There is a quote that says, "Good questions outrank easy answers." (Paul Samuelsen)

But Jesus was matter-of-fact: "Yes—and if you embrace this kingdom life and don't doubt God, you'll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. This mountain, for instance, you'll tell, 'Go jump in the lake,' and it will jump. Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God."
(Matthew 21:21-22)

While this passage is focused on learning a little bit about prayer, we can see Jesus is concerned with his disciples learning more than the superficial - he wants them to get to the root! Jesus focuses them on the condition of heart that is necessary to receive what is desired from God in prayer. We need to have an embracing heart that is filled with faith if we are to receive as God intends for us to receive. It is often difficult to live above doubt - often because the impossibilities look way too menacing and too prominent - so we ask what we think will be simple or easy. Overcoming, or at least stepping out in spite of our doubt is a challenge for most of us - we don't like the potential 'unrest' getting to the root of a matter will bring if we ask in that manner. We need to pay attention to the entire passage here - embrace God first, then overcoming our doubts is easier - we won't fear asking the harder questions.

When we fully hold on to God - really drawing close to him - we find it easier to step out, even when there is a hint of doubt in the way. The key is relationship - the closer we are to God, the closer we are to asking according to his purpose and seeing the fulfillment of what we ask for. When we are in close relationship, we understand that all the blessings and promises of God are for us - there is no question in our mind. We also need to see that we must ask - unspoken requests are not really a thing that God works too well with - even when the questions are not really seeking the 'easy answers'. He wants us to express our hearts to him because it develops the intimacy he desires with us. As we open up to him about what it is we have need of - the deep inner desires of our heart - he is able to embrace us, pulling us closer, and he meets us there. The promise to us is this - if we believe, we will receive whatever we ask for in prayer. Condition - if we believe. Promise - we will receive. Condition - whatever we ask for in prayer. The promise of God has two conditions - we must ask and we must believe. Our doubts are dealt with in the presence of God - our needs are expressed in the times of prayerful sharing - not just the easy stuff, but all of it.

To receive carries means we come into possession of something - this is what we really almost always gravitate to as the definition of receiving. Yet, see the components of this definition a little clearer - WE come into POSSESSION. In other words, we step out in faith and we come into a place where possession is possible. The impossible becomes possible in this place of faith. The action is one of being open to acquire or take it as our own - when we talk openly with God about our needs, we are trusting him to allow us to take that which we desire as our own. Nothing delights the heart of God more than to meet the needs of his kids. To ask means we are also willing and ready to act as a receptacle or container for whatever comes by asking. When we ask, we need to be readied to receive. Why is there a difference between the time we ask and the time we realize the answer? It is often because we need to be readied to receive - our "container" is not ready.  When we ask with an open heart, purposing to take in what we are believing God for, we find that our hearts are open to experience the fullness of God like never before. We are open to assimilate through both our minds and our senses all that God is doing. We are enlarged. Our invitation today is to receive - the condition of our receiving is to ask. The method of asking is to do it while drawing close to God and relying on him more than we believe in our doubts. We don't just ask for the easy - we are ask, knowing we will receive, even when the answer might be a little hard for us to receive! Just sayin!