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Why, then, does it sometimes seem like our prayers fall on deaf ears? Why does it seem like the God who created the universe gives us desires and then withholds things from us?
It can be a child, a spouse, a job, a friend, a hobby, a home, a grade, a goal, a rehab -- it can be anything, the thing we've been waiting and waiting and waiting for and it seems to only happen to other people.
It can make Matthew 7:7-8 difficult to believe.
Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.I'm learning God doesn't always give what we want, but he always, always, provides an overabundance of exactly what we need.
Jordan wants to be a super football player. He dreams of being a star, playing under bright lights with crowds chanting his name. In fact, when he became Jordan Ayres he tested the way it would sound when chanted. He collects football shirts. He watches football on tv. He sleeps with his mouth guard under his pillow. He prays and asks to become a great football player.
This is all fine, except...he doesn't listen to his coach. In practice he doesn't do the drills correctly because he's too busy thinking about being a star football player instead of working hard in practice. He doesn't run the plays correctly because he's too busy trying to figure out how to be the one who scores a touchdown.
Meanwhile the coach can teach Jordan exactly what he needs, and even more than what he needs. He could give Jordan an overabundance of support, encouragement, and training -- an overabundance of football blessings. But, Jordan believes he's just going to become a fabulous football player (after all, he really wants it and he prayed about it) that he completely ignores the coach. He misses the blessing, just like receivers miss passes because they run the wrong route.
Jordan is running the wrong route and he's dropping all of the blessings he needs to become a football player.
I wish eight year old peewee football players were the only ones to have this problem. I've spent years attempting to run my own route and dropping the blessings I was offered. David wrote a Psalm lamenting about how long he was waiting for the things he wanted. At the end of the Psalm, David finds the secret to receiving abundant blessings:
I will sing to the Lord,Habakkuk also writes about a difficult wait, giving hope to Judah as Babylon grows in force and power.
for he has been good to me.
Though the fig tree does not budThere will be times when Jordan will fail on the football field. Until he learns to run the route designed for him, he will never get the thing he wants -- to be a super football player.
and there are no grapes on the vines,
thought the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The same is true for us. Until we run the route designed for us, we will continue to drop the blessings passed to us. The beauty of it is, when we run the route designed for us, Matthew 7:7-8 becomes the blueprint of our prayers -- we ask and receive; seek and find; knock and open. We catch an abundance of blessings. Then, like David, we can declare, "God is good to me."