WARNING: Please stay with me on this one til the end. 🙂
James 1: 5-8
When you are at the stage of life that I am, especially in my spiritual journey, you see things differently. That is, you are not quite as innocent or naïve as you may have once been. That can be both a good thing and a bad thing. When it comes to one’s faith and the scripture, I think it’s a good thing.
Recently, a long-time friend of mine and I were having an Email discussion about The Secret; The popular book and film espousing the “like attracts like” philosophy, with the emphasis on “riches”. He and I primarily discussed the attraction of that type of philosophy and what it was that drew folks to that, yet repelled them from the abundant life that Christ offers. Of course, I think most of us know the answer to that one. But it did get me thinking. For example:
As some of you know, Alice and I are still trying to sell our house in Lubbock. Carrying two mortgages is no small load these days, so it would be a real joy if we were to have a buyer or that house. Which brings me to this, when I read passages of scripture, in context mind you, that seems to indicate, without severe qualification, that I can ask and it will be given, why is there no buyer? Let me enumerate:
Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. (John 14:13-14)
I know commentators want to ascribe qualifications to the word “greater” and “in my name” especially. But, the only real qualifier seems to be to believe.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)
Again, I know the qualifications that are attached to the “abiding”; almost to the point that it is impossible for all except St. Theresa or Billy Graham to perhaps fit the bill, if even them. But, is that really the case?
…Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now, you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. (John 16:23-24)
And of course, the passage that was the focus of my reading both yesterday and today, in James:
If any of you is lacking wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting…
Of course, we all know the qualifier here, it’s “doubt” or “being double-minded”. In the NLT, they take the issue of personal doubt out of the equation and focus it on the object of our faith, GOD. In other words, “…be sure your faith is in God alone”; that there is no “divided loyalty”.
It is indeed possible, that God is not answering simply because it is my petition. For what merit have I that He should grant my request. I have proved nothing to Him. However, my wife is a different story.
Now we could play the “timing” card. You know, in God’s own time he will bring the right buyer for your house, that sort of thing. But quite frankly, now is a pretty good time!
We could play the “wisdom” card. Maybe I should be asking God for some practical insight into why He is not sending a buyer at this particular period.
On the other hand, I could play the practical card; practically speaking, God is really not interested in whether or not our house sells so he is basically out of the equation.
All are qualifiers of one sort or another. Maybe, Jesus really didn’t intend for us to be able to say to this mountain “be moved” or that “nothing will be impossible for you”. On the other hand, maybe he did!
When my faith is in God and God alone, what prevents Him from acting? Is it the “selfish” card? We want our house to sell for “selfish” reasons. I guess “duh” would be appropriate for an answer there. If you call being able to pay your bills, continue to give generously, help others when helping is an option, etc. Then yes, selfishness is reason. If you want to tell me that God wants to get us to a point where we trust Him financially, don’t you dare, we have been there done that and proved faithful.
So, bottom line, why is there no buyer for our house?
You may think this all borders on the line of blasphemy, and you may be right. However, let’s just say my non-believing neighbor and I are having a discussion and he asks me about my faith. In the course of our discussion, he asks if I believe in prayer and whether or not God hears and answers our prayers. I say, “of course I do”.
“Have you prayed to God for a buyer for your house?” he asks.
“Yes, we have”, I reply.
“Then why hasn’t your house sold?” he follows.
Oh my, feet start dancin’ and bring out those ol’ cliché’s from years gone by.
Folks, if you’re reading this, don’t be offended, just be reasonable. We get that sort of thing all the time. The “world” seems to offer a definite answer in their magic books like The Secret. We seem to offer excuses. If you don’t think that’s true, then you send me an email with your experiences where you have prayed specific requests and received specific answers. email@example.com
In the meantime, if you could pray for a buyer for our house in Lubbock!
Father, there is no doubt in my mind that you love me and care for me. That you, for whatever reason have chosen not to send a buyer for our house in Lubbock is something I do not understand. I suppose you will need to help me with that because I am getting frustrated. Thank you that I could tell you that. I love you.