February 25, 2011

Getting What We Ask For

Galatians 5:16-25

[The Spirit and the sinful nature] are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
Galatians 5:17


Jesus had some sobering news for two of his disciples one day. They asked him to give them what they wanted: positions of high honor in his kingdom. But he said, “You don’t know what you are asking.” He explained that he had to endure great suffering to establish his kingdom—and that his followers would suffer too. Besides, he said, it wasn’t his place to grant positions of honor (see Mark 10:35-40).

Sometimes we don’t know what we ask for, and sometimes getting what we ask for isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Just ask Jacob, who snagged the birthright he’d never use. Or ask David, who caused severe trouble to satisfy his lust.

Perhaps you can tell similar stories about times when you tried to force a pleasure or an achievement or a purchase that later proved to be foolish. We can’t just do whatever we want.

The starting point for any addict’s recovery is to finally recognize that fact. An addict is a person who desperately longs for something that would be harmful for him or her. The worst thing for addicts is to actually get the pleasure they are asking for. That’s why recovery groups insist on abstinence— quitting the vice and staying sober or clean one day at a time.

As followers of Jesus, we need to walk in step with the Spirit of God. When was the last time you asked God to show you what he really wants for you?

God, show us what you want for us, and train our desires in your direction. Amen.

About the author — Ron Vanderwell

Ron Vanderwell recently became the senior pastor of New Life Church in New Lenox, Illinois. He has been a pastor for 22 years, serving as a church planter for the previous 12 years at The Gathering in Sacramento, California, and before that as a pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ron and his wife, Deb, have three sons: John, Adam, and Jake. Ron shares more of his reflections on “squinting” for God in his blog at www.squintforgod.com.

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