I keep checking the tickets that I printed off weeks ago. Do I have the day right? The time? Have I forgotten something?
Every time I unfold the creased sheets of paper and read over the details, I’m amazed by God. Really and truly in awe.
It started with such a simple thing, the Broadway show, Mary Poppins, coming to good old Virginia twice in four months.
The first time I missed it. Life was too crazy, too expensive, just too much. But I dared to hope and even just pray a little around Christmas time this tentative request:
Lord, I know this isn’t something I need and I do need other things instead and this is crazy and extravagant. I’m not even asking that my whole family gets to go. If you could just maybe provide the money for two tickets for me and my husband, that’d be awesome. Or even one ticket; that’d be okay. Maybe I could go with a friend? And I understand if you say, ‘no,’ because I know it’s a silly thing anyway.
It felt so selfish to even ask. Normally I stick to the basics: car repairs, bills, car tax payments…that kind of thing.
I had sheepishly asked for one ticket.
God gave me five.
And I’m struck by this kind of extravagant grace, the way our God loves to bless His children, enjoys giving them good gifts, promises to give us what we need and then sometimes just indulges us in the whims and desires of our hearts.
Why then, knowing His character, do I treat Him like such a stingy Scrooge of a God so often? I hesitate to even ask him for another coal for the fire. I avoid His gaze and stammer out requests as if I’m a burden, a pest, and ashamed to even ask.
Even when it’s a Need and not a Want, I pray and ask, but give Him an out, not truly trusting that He will do this, that He could do this, that He would want to do this for me.
“Well, I guess if you don’t provide it’s just Your will and Thy Will Be Done,” that’s what I pray in a sort of hyper-pious acknowledgment of His sovereignty without any confidence in the might and mercy of His character.
But what would have happened if blind Bartimaeus had been hesitant about his need, reluctant to ask, limiting his request and thereby limiting his Savior?
Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.
Bartimaeus didn’t try to give Jesus an easy out. “Lord, I’d like to be a little less blind than I am. Jesus, if you could just correct my vision a little bit I’d at least be able to walk around. Could I see in just one eye? Could you maybe provide me with a guide or seeing eye dog to help me out?”
No, Jesus asked what he wanted and Bartimaeus wanted to see—see all the way.
And Jesus didn’t just open his eyes to the minimum amount necessary to just barely survive. He made the blind man see, truly see, 100%, abundantly, without reservation or drawback…see.
Sometimes our God tells us “no,” out of love and His infinite wisdom. He’s no over-indulgent parent giving into the whims of spoiled children. And He’s no prayer request vending machine, automatically dispensing answers indiscriminately to whoever puts in the coin.
But there are times it just gives Him so much joy to give us not just the daily bread, but the Krispy Kreme as a special treat.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us (Ephesians 1:7-8 NIV)
Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that (Ephesians 5:1-2 MSG).
He’s no miser, this God of ours, rationing His gifts to us and frowning grumpily when we need….or even sometimes when we want. And while we trust His “no” when He declines a request, one of the reasons we trust His love and best intentions for us is because “no good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11 ESV).
If He knows it’s good, it blesses Him to give it.
And it blesses us to receive it as the lavish, rich, and extravagant grace it is, not what we deserve or have earned, but what He has given anyway simply because He loves.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King