Have you ever asked God for something fully expecting that the request is too much; even for Him? Or, have you ever not bothered to take your petition – a need or a want – to the Throne of Grace and Mercy because, again, you just don’t think God can handle it. Or you feel God is too busy with things like “world peace” and “hunger” to take care of your paltry issue?
I’d be willing to bet we all have.
Years ago I heard a pastor (and forgive me, I cannot recall his name) tell the story of his daughter’s upcoming wedding and marriage. “Sweetheart,” he told her, “Your mother and I have some money set aside for your wedding, of course, but we also have money –whenever you’re ready – for your first home.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
"You know, your down payment, or for new carpet, draperies, furniture …”
The daughter nodded. She understood.
The wedding was lovely; the best that money could buy. The pastor’s daughter and her new husband went somewhere tropical for their two-week honeymoon, then returned to their tiny “just rented apartment.”
About six weeks later Dad reminded his daughter that –whenever she and her husband were ready –he had the money they needed for the down payment for a starter home. Daughter nodded as she said, “I know, Daddy.”
Two years and twenty-four rent payments plus one newborn later, the happy couple announced they’d put a down payment on a little starter home. Dad casually mentioned that, if they’d like, he could write a check for new furniture.
“Well,” the daughter said, “with the baby right now … we’d do better to wait, I think.”
Time went on. One baby became two and two became three. The daughter and her husband decided that a family of five simply couldn’t survive the parameters of their starter home. They began searching neighborhood after neighborhood until they found the perfect place to settle in. This, they decided, would be their forever home. They sold the old place and moved into the new. Between the two, they held a giant yard sale in which they sold all their old furniture – the stuff with baby stains and all that. The money earned – combined with their savings – allowed them to buy only the basics: bedroom and family room furniture.
The pastor/father and his wife (her mother) came to the daughter’s new home one evening for dinner. Of course they were most anxious to see the house. Dad asked his daughter about the financial arrangements they’d made. “Oh,” she said, “we just scrimped and saved and used the equity from the sale of the other house. We had enough.”
Her father said nothing in return but he noticed the living and dining rooms were devoid of furniture. Not a picture, not a curtain, and not a throw rug could be found anywhere.
Another few years went by. With the children in their “growing up years,” most of their daddy’s salary went to providing for their needs.
And their wants.
Once again, the pastor/father and his wife were invited –as they often were – for dinner. In the course of the evening, the daughter casually mentioned to her pastor/father that the kids would be grown before she and her husband could afford to fully furnish the house or even to decorate the way she’d like.
Dad cleared his throat and gently reminded his daughter that he had money set aside for her; that it had been there for her all along. All she had to do was ask for it.
The daughter then asked for it. Dad said he’d transfer the money from the savings account to their checking account the following day. Two days later he received a phone call from his astonished daughter. She had no idea of the amount of money her father had been holding on to for all those years. All that money which was at her disposal, if only she asked.
“I have made you too small in my eyes,” we sing, when we sing Be Magnified, by Lynn DeShazo.
We think that God cannot help us. Cannot provide for our needs. Sometimes we think God cannot hear us, even.
But within the stanzas and chorus of this contemporary hymn, we remind ourselves that God is more than able to meet our needs and our wants. His storehouse is full to overflowing.
But we have not because we ask not.
We ask not because we don’t believe in the magnitude of the one before whom we lay our petitions.
There are, of course, a number of scriptures that come to mind as I think about all this. They are so familiar; I hardly had to look them up! These are the words from God that we have memorized, in part because they hold such promise for us as His children. (I encourage you to copy these next few lines, read and repeat as necessary! They can literally be read as though they were written together.)
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you (John 15:7). Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7). Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete (John 16:24). Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God … and my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Phil 4: 6, 19). This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him (1 John 5: 14, 15). You do not have, because you do not ask God (James 4:2c). The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none (Deuteronomy 28:12). Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it (Malachi 3:10).
The fact that they come to mind so easily is not the problem. The problem is not in remembering them, it is in believing them. And it is not in our inability to read them or quote them but in our ability to speak them or sing them with absolute confidence in what we then hear.
Especially in these times
These are difficult times for most of us. Every day I hear someone (typically my husband) lament on how much the stock market has plummeted and how much money has personally been lost. At least twice a week I sit with a checkbook in one hand and a stack of invoices in another and wonder how to make the two dovetail. I have learned and am learning the “art” (for lack of a better word) of saying “no” to unnecessary purchases and of making one dollar stretch to two. And sometimes five.
I’ve gotten pretty good at that, actually.
I recently spoke at a writers conference where I said, “As a country, we can blame our president – past or present – or we can blame the congress or we can blame the big dogs with all the money and power who sit in their corporate offices. But the truth of the matter is, our economic crisis begins with us as individuals.”
To be a little more complete in that statement, allow me to add: …begins with us as individuals as we stand before and God. As I recently heard Joel Osteen say, we have to stop standing before God with our tin cups extended and start standing before him with our empty barrels, fully expecting Him to fill them up to overflowing!
This doesn’t just have to be about money, you know. This truth – that God is more than able – extends from your bank account to your health; from your health to the health of your children; from the health of your children to the needs of yourself and all your loved ones, whatever they are, whoever they are. No matter what your need – and especially when there is nothing you can do about the situation – God can. (2 Chronicles 20:12)
All you have to do is believe.
To sing along with Don Moen, go to: “Be Magnified”
Eva Marie Everson is the coauthor of Reflections of God’s Holy Land: A Personal Journey Through Israel (Thomas Nelson/Nelson Bibles). She is an award-winning author and speaker. To book Eva Marie for your next speaking event, contact The Nashville Speakers Bureau.