“Maybe you don’t have ____ because God wants you to have him?”
The thought rattled me the other morning. But there it was. And without any guilt or finger pointing. This wasn’t an accusation. This was different. This was a promise: GOD WANTS YOU TO HAVE HIM.
I was reading before leaving for work. Suddenly the volume of the author’s voice changed. “Since God is content with himself alone” the words read, “if you have him, you may be content in him alone, and it may be, that is the reason your outward comforts are taken from you, that God may be all in all to you.”
See, I’ve been struggling. Wrestling rather. Olympic wrestling, not wrastlin’. Just hand to hand combat, no theatrics. The opponent: unmet desire. And not even for something impure. The object isn’t sinful. Even the desire isn’t necessarily, just when it goes bad and starts stealing affections and skewing priorities. Is it possible there are bad-good-things? When good things siphon affections for better things, then yes, there are very bad-good-things indeed.
Sometimes I withhold good things from my kids. I’m not being mean, just a good dad. It’s not always taken that way. “No, you can’t have the cookies right now, we’re about to have breakfast.” Why is weeping and gnashing of teeth their response? Oh yes, we’re talking full meltdowns. The force is strong with these ones. But regardless of their response, the goodness of my parental intentions isn’t altered. The good parent says no (or “not right now”, or “yes but”) because they have something better in mind. There’s a time for cookies. It just isn’t at the breakfast table. “Ever had Elvis pancakes? They’re better than cookies. That’s what we’re having.”
Good things which siphon affections for God become bad things. I continued reading that morning:
“If you have children, and because you let your servants perhaps feed them and give them things, you perceive that your servants are stealing away the hearts of your children, you would hardly be able to bear it; you would be ready to send away such a servant. When the servant is gone, the child is at a great loss, it has not got the nurse, but the father or mother intends by sending her away, that the affections of the child might run more strongly towards himself or herself, and what loss is it to the child that the affections that ran in a rough channel before towards the servant, run now towards the mother?” –Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment
It initially occurred to me, “Maybe you don’t have ____, because God want’s you to have him?” But then the speaking changed: “Maybe I haven’t given you _____ because I want you to have Me? Maybe at one point that thing you wanted served you in your desire for me, but now it’s stealing your heart. That thing’s not a bad thing. A desire for that thing, is NOT a bad thing. But I AM SO MUCH BETTER THAN THAT THING. And I am promising you that you will have what I am offering. I am offering Myself. You will have Me if you seek Me.”
His voice that morning made me weep. Not for things I don’t have, but for what I’m promised instead, God himself. I am loved by him…relentlessly.
Our Father is a good father. The Lord says through Scripture: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” Rev 3:19. Maybe you want cookies and that’s not such a bad thing. But maybe the answer has been “no” or “not yet” and you’ve gone through a season of not having what you are hoping for. But what if the Lord wants to give you Elvis Pancakes? What if He’s offering something better, something more appropriate? Would you be reassured of his love for you, even as you read this? His “no” may be His “yes” to something better.