Thursday, September 17, 2015

Expecting the Negative

"I know you are going to say no, but..."

Twelve year-old Jewel approaches me in the library with a book to be approved for check-out.

To be fair, it was one of those "teen" books that borders on dark and the blurb on the back read like something out of one of those sensational newspapers at which we all roll our eyes.  Also, to be fair, I do slow down some of her exposure to the darker material.  She has one of the most sensitive, empathetic natures, especially for seriously hurting people, I've ever known in a child. I seek to protect that sensitivity as she grows into her ability to manage it. It is part of her God-given character and I want her to learn to embrace it, not be battered by it.

Anyway, these are the words with which she approached.  She truly expected "no" to be the answer. In my defense, I don't think I have ever said "no, not ever" to a book, but I do often say "wait." And at twelve, "wait" sounds like "no." (Who am I kidding, at 40something, wait sounds like no!) More and more as she nears her teens and is growing in discernment of how to handle harsh things, I say okay.  In this case I laughed at how she asked and told her that yes she could read the book. She was happily surprised.

I continued to chuckle at how she asked. But part of me was sad that she came expecting a negative answer. Why did she come expecting me to say "no" to her requests?
(Do you see the punch line yet....that's okay, I missed it at first as well.)
Then I felt that oft-sent catch in my spirit. "You do it, too." How often do I approach God saying, "I know that you are going to say no, but this really is the desire of my heart. God please..."  In fact, I did it the very same morning before we went to the library. I actually said, "You are going to say 'not yet' but...." Because, just like Jewel, I still hear "wait" as "no".

What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:11-13

I am still trying to learn how to approach God expectantly and without pre-judging his answer. I want to stand with open hands as well as open heart and mind. Just as I want my children to come to me expecting me to give my best for their good--I want to trust God's best for my good.

In my Mum's group recently we were discussing this concept of coming to God empty and expectantly. We were reminding each other to look at the times that God has been faithful and to use that as our foundation when asking for not only what we need but also what we want.

I know in my life God has proven faithful. He might not have done things how I would have orchestrated them--I mean forgiveness of those who slight me is rarely my first plan. But his forgiveness flows to my detractors as easily as it flows to me, and that is ultimately a good thing. He has used countless situations to grow me into the person he desires, and he continues to do that. Sometimes that means the answer is 'wait'. Other times it is clearly 'no.' I am learning that 'no' always means he has a higher lesson or an unexpected blessing waiting at the end of obedience. Since so much of what God does in my life I could never have imagined on my own, I want to come empty and expectant.

I needed the reminder this week, maybe you did as well.  Be blessed......MiPa

Father God, help me trust your answer. Help me to come expecting your best and not second-guessing you. May I expect positive answers and be able to hear "wait" with trust that you know the best timing. And when the answer is no, give me grace to accept that and trust that there is a better reason. Amen.

 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
    “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
    O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
    O God of my salvation!
Psalm 27:8-9

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