Summary: God is concerned about our desires, our direction and our destiny.
FATHER KNOWS BEST
Text: Matthew 7:9-11
I read a story of a father who was preparing to go on a trip to grandma’s house over the Thanksgiving Holidays. He describes the episode as if it were a theology lab. This father and mother began comparing their mental notes of spiritual perceptions. He said, “A journey is a journey, whether the destination be the Thanksgiving table or the heavenly one. Both demand patience, and a good sense of direction, and a driver who knows that the feast at the end of the trip is worth the hassles in the midst of the trip. ” (Max Lucado. The Eye Of The Storm. Dallas: Word Publishing, 199, p. 115). He continues as he says, “When I’m in the driver’s seat as the father of my children, I remember that I am in charge. But when I’m in the passenger’s seat as a child of my Father, I forget that he’s in charge. I forget that God is more concerned with my destiny than with my belly … And I complain when he says no” (pp. 116-117). What godly father could not relate this reflection to his own life to see how true it is? God is concerned about our desires, our direction and our destiny.
The things that we want are not always the things that we need. Someone expounds upon Matthew 7:11 this way: "If those whose goodness is mediocre at best are ready to take seriously the requests of their children, how much more will the heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him" (Dougals A. Hare). (Dougals A. Hare. Interpretation: Matthew. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1993, p. 79). All my life, I have heard that God always answers prayer. In one of his country music radio hits, Garth Brooks sings in a song about how he thanks God for unanswered prayer. Perhaps, by "unanswered prayer" Garth Brooks means not receiving the answer that one wanted to a given prayer. God always answers our prayers. All my life I have heard that God answers prayers in one of three ways, yes, no or wait.
Imagine that you were going on a trip to your grandmother’s house for some special occasion. Then, one of the children mention that they would like to stop and have some ice cream. Ice cream is something that we can do without. But, the child wants the ice cream. Just because the child asked for ice cream does not mean that he or she will get it. By the same token there are times when we ask God for things that we do not need. The reason that we do not always receive what we asked God to give us might be because it is sometimes God’s will for us to wait. Then there are other times when what we want is not in His plan for our lives because of how it might make us miserable, or hinder us.
Most children are not naturally aggressive. There are times when children might seem demanding, impatient or even perhaps unreasonable. They do not usually push themselves into the being the center of attention. I once read the story about a tiny boy who was seated at the dinner table in his high chair. "... Suddenly he threw his plate in to the floor. His mother was furious. "Go to you room!" she ordered. "You will take your meals there until you learn to behave properly!" The little fellow tried to defend himself but his mother silenced him. "You must learn to be courteous and polite," she declared.
“That evening the father gathered the family in the living room. “I want you to listen to something,” he said. “I had our new tape recorder on tonight during dinner, to see how it works. When I played the tape, I discovered something I think all of us should hear.”
“He started the recording and the family heard themselves as they had sounded at dinner that evening. Everyone seemed to be talking at once. Amid the chatter, they heard a tiny voice say, “Please pass the butter.” But no one seemed to hear. A bit later they heard the same voice, “Would someone please pass the butter?” After a while that little voice was heard again. “Please, please, pass the butter.” Finally, they heard the crash of the plate as it hit the floor. There was that small voice again, but this time it was loud and clear, “Pass the butter!” (Ernest A. Fitzgerald. Keeping Pace: Inspirations In The Air. Greensboro: Pace Communications, Inc., 1988, p. 258).
This story helps us to understand that children are not naturally aggressive. What this little boy wanted was not unreasonable. He just wanted someone to pass the butter. When the boy’s father had heard the recording, he set the record straight. This father was even admitting that he, too, had not been listening. In fact, he did two things for his son. First, he restored joy where the boy had become discouraged. Secondly, he was making it possible for everyone to understand that the boy had been misunderstood because he had not been heard. Sometimes we are like that. Sometimes we do not listen to each other over something as simple as “would you please pass the butter?” There are times when we do not understand each other because we are not really listening to one another.