There is something to be said about asking. When we ask for something, we put ourselves in a vulnerable place, because the answer to the request may be a “No.” The aftermath of that answer may send us to a whirlwind of disappointment and hurt, and at the next occasion, we may ask a little more timidly or refrain from it altogether.
It is a fearful thing to ask. But asking is also the key that unlocks an entirely exciting reality that we may never experience otherwise.
The cool thing about asking is that we may actually get what we ask for.
To the Christian, the fear of asking presents a big problem in the spiritual journey. God tells His followers to ask Him for things. “Ask, and you will receive,” He said. But the simplicity of that statement is problematic to the modern, skeptical, and cynical person. Is He really going to give me what I ask for? Even after we fulfill the “requirements” of answered prayers, like being aligned with God’s specific promise, having a pure motive, being thankful, asking for a good thing, etc., we still doubt if perhaps, maybe, possibly God is too busy for our tiny little requests (humility? Or distrust?). If we ask too much, it will be impossible for God to answer it.
Well, the fear of asking will get in the way of intimacy. How can we be close to anyone if we doubt whether he/she wants the best for us?
I believe there is a way to overcome this fear of asking, and it is this: God has done the most impossible thing. For you. For me.
Think of the most unlikely thing, the most miraculous happening that you want to happen. God has already exceeded that.
The most impossible thing that God has done is to forgive our sins, to save a sinner from death to eternal life. Everything else pales in comparison to that. How can we grasp the impossibility of someone who sins and is condemned to death, but doesn’t have to die? Instead, he can still have eternal life as if he never sinned.
Think of the most outrageous request that you have timidly requested to God. What is that request compared to salvation? All of our outrageous requests combined cannot compare to salvation.
When Jacob returned to Canaan and was at the brink of reuniting with his twin brother, Esau, he was trembling with fear. Last time Jacob saw Esau, Esau wanted to kill him because he had stolen something precious. The weight of that sin was heavy on Jacob. But after a night of wrestling with God and after being assured of forgiveness from God, “Jacob no longer feared to meet his brother. God, who had forgiven his sin, could move the heart of Esau also to accept his humiliation and repentance.” Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 198.
Ever asked for God to change someone’s heart? Sounds pretty impossible, doesn’t it? Yet it is less impossible than the forgiveness of sin.
So, never ask for ‘impossible’ things, because it is easy for God to fulfill it. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32
Ask. Boldly, courageously, obnoxiously. Like a (trusting) spoiled brat to a doting father. Show Him that you actually trust Him.
Ever wondered if the colors you were seeing were the same colors everybody else saw?
My favorite color is green. It has always been green since I was in my mother’s womb—I am convinced of it. Green is the color of life, the essence of any beautiful scenery. In fact, when I was young, I liked green so much that I could not understand why anyone’s favorite color was anything other than green. How could they like blue or yellow as much as green? These colors were just not on equal grounds.
My sister’s favorite color used to be red, and I just could not reconcile it in my mind why she would like red more than green. So to resolve this conundrum in my mind, I had this thought: What if what she was calling red was actually green? What if the color that we were all calling our favorite was actually the same color (i.e., my green), but we were just calling it by different names?
But how would I prove this thought? I could only experience the colors that I saw and I couldn’t jump into another person’s body to see what they saw. Even if I had an eye transplant, that organ would be in a new body, and who knew how that organ would function in a new environment? How could I be sure that my green was the same as my sister’s green? I had been taught to call green “green”, but how did my parents know what I saw?
I was old enough to know that if I pursued that thought further I could just go crazy. So I stopped and accepted, by faith, that what everyone called green was in fact the same color, and left it at that.
But was that not a freaky thought?
One of my personal concerns in life is the danger of self-deception. The catch is that I wouldn’t realize it if I were being deceived—it wouldn’t be called deception otherwise. I care about whether something is true or not. I care whether or not what I see is equal to my perception. I care whether or not my understanding about anything or any person is correct. I ask myself this question a lot: Am I blind? Am I seeing reality as it really is? Or is what I call reality (i.e., the reality of any situation) is some illusion I conjectured in my mind?
I don’t know how other people handle this, but for me, multiplicity of perspective from other people is crucial is gauging any situation. Most importantly though, is my relationship with God. One of my continuing prayers is for God to help me see clearly and to show where I am in the wrong. I don’t think the question of reality can be answered without touching the issue of faith, just like we can never be sure of colors without putting some faith in a collective claim or reality. You can measure wavelengths, but you still can’t see what another person sees.
If there’s anything close to a conclusion I’ve made regarding this issue, it would be this: Your chance of being self-deceived is inversely proportional to your openness to be wrong (and be shown that you are wrong).
Thoughts from reading the Conflict of the Ages (COTA) series. Join the COTA in a Year reading group on Facebook.
In the opening chapter of the series, Why Was Sin Permitted, the stage for the controversy between good and evil is set. In the face of evil and rebellion, whose origin is mysterious, God does something that is simply baffling and perplexing.
God could employ only such means as were consistent with truth and righteousness. Satan could use what God could not—flattery and deceit. He had sought to falsify the word of God and had misrepresented His plan of government, claiming that God was not just in imposing laws upon the angels; that in requiring submission and obedience from His creatures, He was seeking merely the exaltation of Himself. Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 42.
Satan accuses God of injustice and self-exaltation, and the apparatus of evil is more diverse than the apparatus of goodness. Satan makes claims that falsify God’s word. He makes statements that contradict what God says. As a result:
It was therefore necessary to demonstrate before the inhabitants of heaven, and of all the worlds, that God’s government is just, His law perfect. Satan had made it appear that he himself was seeking to promote the good of the universe. The true character of the usurper and his real object must be understood by all. He must have time to manifest himself by his wicked works. Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 42.
The incredible unfairness of the situation is troubling. One accusation, and God has to suffer through this thousands-of-years-long play, this elaborate experimentation with sin that costs Him dearly. The accusation is easy, the defense is long and costly.
Yet the greater wonder to me is that God deems it necessary to “demonstrate before the inhabitants of heaven, and of all the worlds, that [His] government is just, His law perfect.” Why?
Out of all the options to handle rebellion, including ignoring it, quieting it, taking a hands-off approach and letting everyone figure out who’s right, God chooses the one option where He ultimately pays for Satan’s rebellion (and subsequently, the sin of mankind)… And the story hasn’t ended! We are still in the middle of this controversy; God is still in the middle of this demonstration process. I do not understand this, but I do not question that this incomprehensible wisdom behind God’s decision is the highest kind there is.
In the face of Satan’s (verbal) accusations, God takes it upon Himself to demonstrate, by words and action, over a long period of time, the falsity of His opponent. God responds to His creation; He is not unaffected by sin and rebellion.
In fact, God is essentially wooing His own creation to believe Him, placing Himself as the pleader, convincing men and angels that His government is just, His law perfect. This is God, the Creator! The Creator pleading with His creation? It sounds utterly ridiculous.
But such is the humility of God. So humble that it makes me perplexed and uncomfortable. How can this be? He makes Himself subject to His creation.
My natural response in this type of situation would be to appeal to God, “Lord, show Yourself strong.” He is in fact showing Himself strong, but not in the way I think what strong means. And in the end, when all beings in the universe will finally acknowledge the justice and goodness of God, what we will not find is God sitting on His throne looking all smug saying, “I told you so.”
God is a God who is touched by the feeling of our infirmities (Heb 4:15). This is not only true when Jesus becomes our High Priest; this is who He is from the beginning. And these infirmities are not just our feebleness; they include all of our sins and rebellions. God is touched by our sins. He is not unaffected by our rebellions.
In the controversy between good and evil, God is not the One watching the spectacle from above. He is the One being watched. This is humility.