Wednesday, January 30, 2019

This isn't Monopoly

Have you ever struck up a bargain with someone, crafting your "investment" into whatever it is they want out of the deal in order to get out of it exactly what you wanted? I used to play Monopoly with friends when younger and you'd find us in an all out battle to the finish, attempting to persuade each other to let go of that one last railroad, high end property, or utility. We wanted the monopoly so we'd be able to bankrupt anyone landing on that square! The bargaining got somewhat loud on occasion, with an almost 'begging' or 'pleading' tone to it. The pleading was met with firm resistance, no matter how 'broke' that other player was and how much they could use our 'capital' to keep going in the game. They just didn't want to give the other player the satisfaction of doing everybody in as they made their way around to that property block. There are definitely times when a little bargaining isn't really all that bad - like in the playing of the game - but there are times when I think we want to approach God this way. We want to 'make a deal' he cannot refuse - or at least one we think he cannot refuse. We think we know what the specific 'deal-breaker' will be, so we avoid it like the plague. Yet, when it comes right down to it, we just don't believe God isn't in the business of 'wheeling and dealing' - he is in the business of loving, caring, and protecting.

Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better? (Matthew 7:7-8 MSG)

God wants us to be direct with him - straight up, spot on, and totally transparent. If I wanted the railroad so I'd have made the monopoly, then I could have just said to my son that I was intending on gathering all of those four blocks and then 'milking' money from him each time he had the unfortunate fate of landing on that square! Instead, I crafted some 'generous' offer that was met with resistance. Why was there resistance? The other player really knew what I was doing no matter how well I crafted my bargain! God isn't going to be fooled by our 'crafty bargaining' - he knows when we want to have something a certain way because it will fit our purposes. We might think we are being clever in how we are wording our requests to him, but he knows the 'back-story' of that plea! If we'd learn to be honest about the 'back-story', we might just find God helping us to see how the story really isn't the one he is writing in our lives - making us more likely to let go of the thing without much hesitation at all.

Honestly, there are more times I don't have a clue what to ask God for in my life, I just know I have a need of some sort. Sometimes I feel lonely and a little down in the mouth. Do I come out and ask God for friends in my life? Nope. I just express my feelings of loneliness and leave things in his hands. Usually in a pretty short order, I begin to see how he has placed special moments in my path that build me up, make me feel cared for and loved, and I am not feeling quite as lonely anymore. I laid out my need the best I could and he did the rest. I didn't formulate the plan for how I expected him to 'fix' my sense of loneliness. I trusted he knew specifically what I needed in that season of my life. Sometimes it was a close friend who'd just minister into my life. At others, it was someone else in need that crossed my path and in meeting their need, my loneliness lessened until I wasn't really feeling all that lonely anymore. This may seem like a lame example of asking God for something in our lives, but in truth, I really finding laying out the specific need is all I need to do - I don't need to outline the 'fix' for the need! Just sayin!

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