Asking like a Child
H. G. "Butch" Walker
Butch and his wife Karaña are friends of the Tittles. Butch is certified by the Association for Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC)
I’m starting a new job.
That is a momentous statement for me as it comes on the tail end of two months of searching for one, an experience which I had mercifully never had before. As is often true, the heat of unemployment revealed other significant dross in my heart.
Like a lot of people who lose a job, I’ve struggled with the identity issues and rejection. But much more, I’ve struggled with my identity before God. The last three years have been difficult. After a relatively “blessed” life, a series of personal, family, and relational disappointments left me asking “Why?” and “What are you doing, Lord?” It seemed like all of my good intentions and efforts at serving God were being cast aside and thwarted. So, when the dream of spending the rest of my career in church ministry came crashing down, it felt like God might be done with me.
“Lord, do you still want to bless me?”
“Have I done something wrong?”
“Are all the good things in the past?”
One of the ways that God challenged me was with regard to my prayer life. At one point, a dear friend prayed that the Lord “would provide a job that would go beyond my wildest dreams.” I remember feeling almost a stab when he said that. I realized that I had a hard time believing God would do that for me. But when I stopped and thought about that, I realized those were unworthy thoughts of God. So I decided I’d better examine my prayer life.
I picked up a book that I had read previously called “A Praying Life” by Paul Miller. In the book, Miller calls us to approach God like little children, without guile but simply asking for what we want, trusting that our Father loves us and will give us what we need and even delights in giving us good things that we desire.
But when I examined my prayers, I realized that I didn’t approach God like that. I tended to try to pray “spiritual” prayers. Rather than asking for what was really on my heart, I tended to ask God to help me want things I didn’t want. Now, there’s definitely a place for asking God to change your desires or for praying “thy will be done,” but there’s also a place for praying “Take this cup from me.” Isn’t it interesting that Jesus, though He knew He had come for this very purpose (John 12:27), still asks His Father for what He really wanted at that moment – to have that cup taken from Him (Luke 22:42).
So, during this unexpected “sabbatical”, I committed to pray more like my friend had prayed for me. I began to ask God to provide me with a job that would not just provide for my family, but that would allow me to do the things that I really enjoy doing and to do it for a purpose that I cared about.
Then I thought He had answered my prayer as a position opened that would allow me to return to an organization that I loved. It seemed an almost sure thing … until they hired someone else. “See there,” the accuser said, “God isn’t going to bless you.” But I sought to cling to the knowledge that God had something better.
And He did. A position opened where I could see how God had a better plan. Four interviews later I found myself waiting for an offer that would validate my hope in God’s good purposes. And I got His answer. “No.” They decided not to offer me the position.
“He’s abandoned you.” “He’s mad at you.” “You’ve messed it up.” The accusations continued. Friends and family helped me stay grounded to the faith that God must still have something better. But the financial picture was becoming more serious and time was running out.
Now, I’ve already given away the end of the story, but not the way in which God answered. After several months of searching and two major false starts, the job offer came in a blink, out of nowhere. It was perfect! In the span of 72 hours, I went from no prospects to an accepted offer that looked as if I had written the job description. And best of all, it was with an organization that I had spent 15 years volunteering for.
There’s another cup in Scripture beside the cup of wrath that Jesus asked to have taken from Him. It’s the cup that is spoken of in Psalm 116:12-13.
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD,
It’s an act of dependence. It’s an act of trust. It’s an act that declares, “the Lord loves me and wants to give me good things.” That is how children approach their fathers. That’s how the Lord has been teaching me to pray in the midst of this trial.
So, regardless of the circumstances you are facing, if you are in Christ, God has given you the cup of salvation and taken from you the cup of wrath. Jesus took that for you and drank it to the dregs. Knowing that, let us trust our Father’s love and come to Him with our requests. Even if the circumstances remain hard, in Christ our cup runs over.