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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Of Stones and Caviar

Luke 11:9-12 (from The Message)
 “Here’s what I’m saying:
Ask and you’ll get;
Seek and you’ll find;
Knock and the door will open.
“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?”

I must admit—I am rather conflicted over this passage and others like it. It seems to say that we can get anything we need just by asking, seeking, and assertively knocking on doors. It seems to say that God favors those who help themselves, to paraphrase an old saying. I am conflicted because my experience tells me life’s not that simple. There are many, many people I’ve known who sincerely asked for good things but often got stones. And there are many people who dine on caviar who are not at all appreciative and see their daily blessings as entitlement rather than gifts. How is that fair, or of God?

So I’ve been thinking about this passage for hours, even days, now. And here is my a-ha! moment: I don’t think this scripture is about asking for our finances to mysteriously improve, my excess weight to drop like scales off a lizard, protection against bad events, or to get that dream job, super-human health, or handsome husband. I don’t even think it is to get to be a better nurse, person, or ‘Christian’. I think it’s all about asking, seeking, knocking on doors, and not taking no for an answer in an all-out, no holds barred passionate drive to meet God. 

Blaise Pascal said that there is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing. All good things do follow our relentless search for God, for we will always find our Creator and our Redeemer. The God-shaped vacuum in the heart means that even when we cram the good things we receive in life into it, the vacuum is not filled—and eventually we become jaded and restless. The opposite happens when we seek passionately after God—even ‘bad’ things are redeemed and we perceive meaning and purpose is at work, even if we cannot immediately see it. 

Encouragement for this week and the next: ask after God and seek Christ in the face of strangers, patients, friends, professors (:-)) and colleagues. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer—knock on the door of initiative and commit to presence and relationship even when lives crossing your path today seem random. 

Blessings on your week!

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