Upon reading verses 7-11, what were some thoughts you had? I know a common question regarding this text. "What if you are praying for something and God just isn't answering!" The text does say if you ask, it will be given to you. If you seek, you will find. If you knock, the door will be open to you. "Then why aren't my prayers being answered? I've asked a hundred dozen times!" My thoughts are this: You aren't asking what is best for you. If it was best for you, then God would answer- keeping in mind that He doesn't always answer the way that you think He should. In fact, although it's frustrating at times that He doesn't answer right away, in our timing, and in the way we want, the way God does answer is way better than we could have hoped for. He does this because He is our Father and He delights in us. I love the example of the earthly father and son: "Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?" Then Jesus continues, " If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" Precious. I know it can be frustrating when you feel that what you are asking for is selfless, godly and for His kingdom... but maybe He has other plans. Isaiah 55:8 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord." In our finite minds, something may seem best- but God is infinite. He knows the big picture, you are only seeing a scene. This is where faith comes in that God knows best, regardless of it not making sense to us at the time. I remember feeling this way awhile ago, and the outcome made the biggest impact on my life.
I had been dating a guy for awhile and I really liked him. Our relationship went on for a few years, and we talked about marriage often. However, it seemed as though I was pursuing it, not him. It seemed I was excited to spend the rest of my life with him, and he did not reciprocate the joy. I knew he loved me, because he told me all the time. They weren't empty words, but he definitely could have done better at showing me love. (couldn't we all?) During our relationship, I followed Jesus on and off. Yet the one thing that I spent hours praying about was that this guy would love me and ask me to marry him. It was the only thing I ever wanted. I was angry with the Lord that He wasn't granting my request, even though I spent hours crying and begging Him. This went on for years. After about the 6th year of dating on and off, I went to Bible College. In my mind, this would be a great way for this guy to miss me and realize his love for me and the seriousness of committing to me. Well, I think he did realize how much he missed me- he called me often at 2 o'clock in the morning, drunk. At this time, I had begun following Jesus closer than I had before, and although this guy was still doing things that I wouldn't want in a husband, I pleaded with God to change him- make him love me in a godly way. One day at a "Day of Prayer" at school, God showed me one verse concerning my relationship with this guy. Isaiah 55:8~ "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord." It was the first time in my life that God spoke loud and clear. I didn't want it to be true. I wanted to marry the man of my dreams. But there was something stirring my heart that knew I needed to take a step of faith and trust that God knew what He was doing. So that day, I called the guy up and broke up with him for good. Two weeks later, I met Joey, my present husband (insert super smiley face). I think all along, God grieved at my desire to want to be with this guy when He knew He had someone greater for me.
Here's a story I hope you can relate to like I can:
A little girl's birthday was approaching, and all she wanted was a red bike with pink tassles hanging off the handle bars that had a basket on the front. She had been asking her Daddy for a bike for as long as she could remember, and her Daddy said, "Not yet." One day, they went out garage saling. When they pulled up to a sale, the little girl exclaimed, "Daddy! Daddy! There's a bike just like I've always wanted!" They got out of the car, and the little girl dragged her father to the bike right away. The father looked at it and saw that it wasn't quite what she wanted. It was a yellow, tarnished bike. It had a basket, but it was old and bent. It did have pink tassles off the handle bars, but half of them were torn off. "Daddy, it's only five dollars! Oh please, Daddy, please, would you buy me this bike? I would be SO happy!!" Her father turned to her, bent down to the ground on one knee and said, "No, honey, not at this time." The little girl was so disappointed. She wondered what she did wrong that her Daddy wouldn't spend five dollars on a bike. "Daddy, I will wash dishes for a month every day, if you buy me this bike!" But her father just shook his head no. The little girl could see that her Daddy was not mad at her, in fact he looked sad. They left the sale and went home, the little girl didn't to go anywhere else. She looked out the window all the way home with tears rippling down her cheeks.
A few days later was her birthday. When the little girl came out of her room, her parents were waiting to sing her happy birthday in the living room. She looked around and didn't see any presents. Her Daddy got up off the couch and grabbed her hand and led her out the front door to the driveway. There, with a big purple ribbon on it was a brand, new bike. The red paint even had sparkles in it! The basket was pink to match the long tassles on the handle bars. There was even a bell on it with a pretty ring to it. "Oh, Daddy! Thank you, thank you! Did you go our shopping later that afternoon after the garage sale?" she asked. "No honey, I've had this bike hiding in the garage for a couple months. I just wanted to give it to you on a day we could celebrate."
The first time I heard this story, I bawled. I remember connecting my teenage love story to this one, abd how God had a much better plan than my own. He knew all along that He had something better in store for me, but it wasn't until I was obedient in letting the man of my dreams go that he could give me the man of His plans. Just like this father was hurting along with his little girl when she didn't understand he had something greater, our Father grieves when we don't understand His ways at the time. I hope you can relate with this story. I hope you can bring to God something you have been holding on to. Something that you have been asking for. Surrender it to Him. He might just have something better planned for you.
Remember, God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways. If God isn't quick to answer, be patient. Continue asking. Continue seeking. Continue knocking. In his timing, and in his way, He will answer. When He does, trust that however He answers is for His glory and your best.