The Good Life, part 2: The Fountain of Desire

PANNING FOR GOLD

Digging into Psalm 34:12

This post is dedicated to . . .

Whoever of you loves life 
and desires to see many good days . . . (Psalm 34:12 NIV).

Is it alright to love life? To desire good days—actually, to desire a lot of them?Fountain

As I considered these questions, a more profound one came to me: does God have desires? Do things matter to Him?

I concluded that He must have feelings, because Jesus told his disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15 NIV). Not just desired but eagerly desired.

Is it any wonder that we have many desires? We were made in His image.

I imagine you are thinking, “Some of my desires couldn’t have come from Him.” You would be right. I want to address that shortly, but first may we consider the difference between honoring our desires and ignoring them? I see an example of each in the story of the “lost son” in Luke 15:11-32.

Usually, when this story is told, the emphasis is on the father who loved his wayward son unconditionally and welcomed him home after he had partied his inheritance away. But I want us to look at the two sons. The younger son apparently had a taste for life. He liked to enjoy himself. However, his notion of how to enjoy life was immature and distorted. It caused him to self-destruct. On the other hand, eventually, he was capable of appreciating the home he had left behind and desiring to return to it.

The older son took pride in his hard work and responsibility and despised his fun-seeking younger brother. He was indignant that their father received his brother home again—especially that he fully reinstated him as a son.

The older son appears to have been driven by obligation. The younger son was drawn by his desires.

The older son’s best reward for his efforts was pride. The younger son reaped joy and, ultimately, love and self-esteem.

The older son was faithful but his heart was far from his father. The younger son was neither faithful nor loving—at first. But the day came when remembered his father with affection and realized it would be a pleasure to work for him.

There is a pernicious (plain English: nasty) idea out there that God wants us to be serious and dutiful—that the less we think about our desires the happier He is with us.

There’s some truth to that last point. God is selfless, so when we put others above ourselves, we are like Him. Yes, God is selfless, but He is not desire-less. If you doubt that, read the whole story of the lost son and see how longingly the father watched for the son’s return and how extravagantly he showered him with gifts of love. He also told his older son that he would have held a feast for him and his friends at any time, if he had only asked.

So here’s the truth about what the Lord wants from us:

Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing (Psa. 100:2 NKJV).

Anything less grieves God’s loving, generous heart. It also diminishes our fruitfulness, because joy and desire are huge motivators.

Earlier, we acknowledged that not all desires are good. In fact, the lost son’s youthful desires ruined his life. But there’s a way to live from your heart safely.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart ( Psalm 37:4).

When did the younger son’s desires become healthy? When his heart turned back to his father and he took delight in being back home.

What if your life is in disarray because of unhealthy desires? Connect with the heavenly Father.

What if you are a good Christian, but you’re not enjoying it? Unstop the fountains of desire. Uncover how you feel about things. Resurrect your dreams.  Don’t drop your responsibilities but develop a taste for them. Let your actions spring from desire, not just duty, and approach the Father with an open, trusting heart.

As Proverbs 4:23 says,

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (NIV).

 

The Good Life, Part 1: TAKE A TASTE

Stuffed Mushrooms

PANNING FOR GOLD

Digging into Psalm 34:8

I made some stuffed mushrooms for lunch today. I chopped some zucchini, red bell pepper, and onion; added parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and crumbled goat cheese; stuffed the mixture into the mushrooms; and popped them in the toaster oven. They came out looking good, but when I bit into one—oh my!—it tasted even better than it looked.

In the middle of Psalm 34, David makes an interesting suggestion:

8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;

    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

The caption at the top of the psalm, as well as the first several verses, show that this psalm was composed in thankfulness and praise to the Lord for rescuing him from King Saul and King Achish.  So the goodness of the Lord that David is talking about must be that he rescues believers from danger.

Well, yes, but then he goes on to say:

 9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.

10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Hmmm. Now he has gone on to a whole different way that God is good—he not only helps people in danger, but he is a giver of good things.

Most Christians would quickly say, “Oh, yes, God gives us everything we need—not everything we want, but everything we really need.” If you point out to them that Jesus said He came to give life in abundance, they would say that means an abundance of love, joy, peace, etc.—in other words, spiritual blessing.

That’s not how the Jewish people understood the Lord’s blessing. They trusted God to bless them spiritually by atoning for sin, but they also very much expected Him to bless them abundantly with material things.

Their history started with Abraham. He was a nomad in a strange country. But the Lord promised it all to him and his descendants at the appropriate time. In the meantime, the Lord caused him to become enormously wealthy and influential AND enabled his formerly barren wife to bear their son when she was ninety years old.

Abraham’s son Isaac also experienced an economic miracle because of the Lord’s blessing:

1 A severe famine now struck the land, as had happened before in Abraham’s time. So Isaac moved to Gerar, where Abimelech, king of the Philistines, lived.

The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt, but do as I tell you. Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you.

12 When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. 13 He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. 14 He acquired so many flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him.(Genesis 26:1-2, 12-14 NLT).

God created life to be good. That’s why we feel distressed when our resources are in short supply. Distress (pain) is the response the Lord built into our beings to let us know when something is wrong. Scarcity is not good, minimal health is not good, strained relationships are not good. God never intended his people to be saddled with this kind of experience.

Why do Christians have them? A big reason is: we settle for all these things because we don’t really believe God is good and that he is generous with those who allow Him to be. We don’t know how pleased He is when we seek Him about the things that we lack.

Let’s taste and see how good God is. If we seek Him, we will lack no good thing.

 

Who’s in Charge?

In a democracy like the United States, we understand the concept of choosing who will be in charge. We don’t have a choice about whether to have a government, or whether to obey the laws, but we do have a voice in choosing which individuals will make and enforce the laws.

That is very much the case, Votingalso, in the spiritual context of life. We can choose whether to put ourselves under the authority and protection of God and his angels or under the domination of satan and his demons.

This is where you might be saying, “I really did not need to hear this. It freaks me out.”

The good news is: with spiritual “government” you don’t have to wait up until midnight to find out who won the election. You can choose who will be in charge over you at any time, regardless of how anyone else is “voting.”

How do you do that? Let’s look at an example from the ancient history of Israel.

God had rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and was returning them to Canaan–the land he had promised them 400 years previously. The native Canaanites had become so corrupt that they sacrificed their own children in fiery furnaces to their god, Moloch. God is merciful, as he showed in the case of Nineveh. He will forgive those who repent. The Canaanites must have shown themselves unredeemable, because the Lord sent the Israelites to destroy that civilization and claim the land for themselves.

So here they were at the border of Canaan. The Lord told Joshua to send twelve spies into the land to familiarize themselves with it before sending in their troops. The men came back with a glowing report about the land. But then ten of them gave the opinion that they could not conquer this land because some of its inhabitants were giants. Most of the Israelites allowed themselves to be caught up in fear. They spent the night weeping and complaining. By morning they were ready to choose a new leader and return to Egypt.

5 Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. 6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, . Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. ” (Numbers 14:5-9 NIV).

Who was right–the ten fearful spies or Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb? The answer is obvious in the story of the first battle (which took place 40 years later–after the doubting generation had been replaced by their children). This battle did not involve giants, but it did require the Israelites to enter the walled city of Jericho. You no doubt know the story: The army walked around the city multiple times. On cue, the priests blew their rams’ horns. The soldiers shouted. And the walls of Jericho crumbled.

Clearly, Joshua and Caleb had known what they were talking about–“Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us” and “Do not be afraid of them because we will devour them.”

The second generation, led by Joshua, cast their vote for God and won big. The first generation cast their vote in the opposite direction and died in the wilderness. In what way did they “vote”? It all boiled down to whom or what they chose to fear.

The second generation–the winners–“feared the Lord.” (Whenever this terminology is used in the Bible it means they had awe and respect for God.) In spite of the unknowns ahead of them, this generation chose to trust the Lord and follow his directions. They put God in charge, and they gained everything He had promised them.

The first generation feared everything but God. By default, the “other entity” took charge of this situation in their lives, and they were big-time losers. They were still God’s people. He had set them free from slavery and continued to care for them miraculously for 40 years. Their clothing and shoes did not wear out and they had manna to eat every day. BUT they missed out on all the blessings He was ready to give them–because they gave into fear of things God was easily able to overcome.

When you find a promise in the Bible that relates to you, expect the enemy of your soul to behave the way he did toward the Israelites camped on the border of Canaan. Expect him to plant a fearful thought or intimidating circumstance in your path to hinder you from believing God and receiving His blessing.

When that happens, what will you do? Will you give in to the fear and let the enemy take charge of that situation? Will you let him do what he does best–“rob, kill, and destroy” the destiny God has for you?

Or will you fear the Lord? Will you purposely remind yourself that God can easily overcome any obstacle? Will you tell yourself that God means what He says? If so, He will remain in charge of that situation in your life, and you will receive “immeasurably more than all” you could “ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

 

P.S. This post can be subtitled “What’s the Hold-Up, Part 3.” We don’t have to be in the dark about why some of our prayers are not answered. God does keep his promises! The Bible shows us how to cooperate with Him to receive them. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Are You Attracting or Repelling?

Magnetic DogsOne of my earliest experiences with magnetism was a toy–two small Scottish Terrier dogs, each mounted on a magnet. When we slid one dog close enough to the other, they would suddenly unite with a click–that is, if they were facing each other. If we brought one of them up behind the other, the second dog would move away. No matter how frequently or how rapidly the dog in our hand pursued the other, it could not connect. It only succeeded in chasing it away.

In a recent message to my bible study group, Pastor Elizabeth Smither likened our belief systems to a magnet. She said that our thought patterns and beliefs can create a “magnetic field” of faith that attracts (receives) God’s blessings–or they will create a “magnetic field” of anxiety and doubt that repel (cannot receive) His help. The problem, she pointed out, is that we have mixed beliefs. One day, we believe the promises in his Word and are confident he will help us. The next day (or week)–because we have not yet received what we are expecting–our minds are a tumult of thoughts like: “Well, maybe it’s not God’s will after all.”

This yo-yo effect is a serious impediment to receiving God’s blessings. It’s as if the answer was being pulled in, closer and closer, by our faith, but then (when doubt turned our magnet around), we chased the answer away. This is the situation James describes:

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do (James 1:5-8 NIV).

Yikes! How in the world can we help having contradictory thoughts? Is it possible to make sure our magnetic field is always one of faith, which can receive God’s blessings? It must be! God doesn’t tease us with impossibilities. If He requires us to believe in order to receive, then there’s a way to become confident believers.

Building unwavering faith happens when we “look” at the Lord and meditate on his Word. This involves not only reading the Bible but speaking it and thinking about it–day and night! When the truth saturates our minds and the wrong thinking is gone, we can hear the Good News and believe it! And “anything is possible if a person believes.”

P.S. This post could be subtitled “What’s the Hold-Up, Part 2.” You might find it helpful to scroll down to the original blog on this topic and read it. Some more thoughts along these lines can be found in a devotional I wrote for cbn.com.

 

What’s the Hold-Up?

I can’t remember too many traffic slow-downs in the small town of 16,000 where I traffic jamused to live. Now that I live in a city of 300,000, traffic patterns are a daily consideration. Rush hour. All the traffic lights on Nicholasville Road. A 5-mile detour because of an accident.

My siblings who live in the Denver area, Dallas area, and Chicago area would probably laugh that I consider this to be a big city, but they can surely identify with my point, which is: when I am traveling around this town, I often wonder, What’s the hold-up?

I met someone this week who was wondering the same thing–about what was happening to his prayers. Had God heard? Had he asked something that wasn’t God’s will? Did God expect him to do something in order to receive his answer? What’s the hold-up?

It would be impossible to give a simple answer that would fit the situation of anyone who has not received an answer to prayer. But an important general answer is this: When there’s a hold-up to receiving something from God, there’s probably a blockage in that person’s faith-pipeline. Because faith is the pipeline through which God sends the things we’ve asked for.

A story in Mark 9 shows how this works. A man had brought his son to Jesus.

 But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.

21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.

He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked.“Anything is possible if a person believes” (New Living Translation).

Did you catch that? The father said, “If you can do anything . . .” and Jesus said [allow me to paraphrase], “The question isn’t whether I can do anything. I can do anything. The question is whether you believe I can. If you believe [in Me] everything is possible.”

Well, how are you supposed to believe, if you don’t already? 

First of all, believing isn’t mental or spiritual gymnastics. When we try to conjure it up, it’s not real. True belief (or faith) is based on solid information and experience. To have faith in God, we need to know what he is like, what he has promised to do for us, and what he wants of us. God gave us the Bible so that we don’t have to guess, but we can know, everything we need to know about him and how he relates to us.

The problem is, we can read the Bible but not believe what it says. Our ability to believe God is blocked by ideas such as, “If God intended to answer my prayer, he would’ve done it by now. Since nothing has happened, it must not be his will.” Or, “God answers other people’s prayers but not mine.” Or, “The promises in the Bible must have been for people long ago, not for now.” Or, “I’m not surprised God didn’t answer my prayer. He’s probably angry with me for [whatever].”

If our minds are saturated with a life-long accumulation of doubts and fears, it will take deliberate exposure to the truth in the Word to cleanse our minds.* The Bible describes this process in such passages as these:

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night (Joshua 1:8 NIV, emphasis added)

Blessed is the one . . . whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers (Psa. 1:1-3 NIV, emphasis added).

Notice that the process of getting truth into our minds includes not only reading the Word but speaking it and thinking about it–day and night! When the truth saturates our minds and the  wrong thinking is gone, we can hear Good News and believe it! And “anything is possible if a person believes.”

__________

*Also, in order to believe the Bible, we need to make up our minds to turn loose of any idea we have that is different from what God says is true.

 

The Fear That Ends All Fear

frightened girl

PANNING FOR GOLD

Digging into Psalm 34:4, 7

How can fear do away with fear?? It’s a matter of what you mean by “fear.” This song by David, the fugitive, includes two very different kinds of fear:

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears. . . . 
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them (Psalm 34:4, 7 NIV).

The word “fears” in verse 4 comes from a Hebrew word (megowrah) that can mean the feeling of fear or can mean a situation that is fearful.* It’s what we normally mean when we say “fear.” It’s the kind of fear David experienced just before he wrote this psalm.

But David’s fears ended because the Lord delivered, or rescued, him. In fact, his angel had been camping around David all along, ready to deliver him from any danger that cropped up. How did David rate 24/7 angelic protection? Because he feared the Lord (verse 7).

Awed boyHuh! It doesn’t seem as if a person would be afraid of a God who is so gracious and caring. Well, this word “fear” isn’t what we usually think of as fear. It comes from a Hebrew word (yare’) which means to stand in awe of, be awed, to fear, reverence, honor, respect.* 

Perhaps you have always vaguely understood that “the fear of the Lord” meant awe and respect for Him. But you may still have trouble seeing how fear fits into that equation.

Years ago, I stumbled upon my first experience of it. Life was a blur of pain because of a betrayal, and I needed to talk to someone. I had all kinds of choices, but I had a deep sense I had better speak with my pastor only. I recognized that if I did not stick to the Lord’s way of behaving, things would not turn out well for me. Because I respected His wisdom above all others, I feared to depart from His ways.

Shortly after that, I encountered this respect and fear again. I was president of a local teachers’ association, and we were deep into rocky negotiations with the school board. The Lord made it clear that he expected me to refrain from criticizing or accusing the superintendent and school board members–and that, if I did that, he would help us gain what we truly needed. It was rather counterintuitive for me, but–who can refuse God, especially when he cares enough to intervene personally in your life?

One night, my vice president called to tell me of the talk going around the community concerning us teachers. I went to the basement to pray. I asked for some things–like wisdom and protection–but mostly I marveled at how sure I was that everything was going to be alright. That’s when I found out it’s true–if you fear the Lord and obey him, that puts an end to all other fears.

________

*Based on definitions from the Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon, which is keyed to the “Theological Word Book of the Old Testament.”

 

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My House or His

house_small

As research for the novel I am writing, I am saturating myself with the four gospel narratives of the life of Jesus. A bit of dialogue that stood out to me a couple days ago is the first conversation between Jesus and his first two disciples. These two men–who, at the time, were disciples of John the Baptist–were present when the Baptizer pointed Jesus out, describing him as the Lamb of God.

house_largeThey said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him (John 1:37-39 NIV).

One of the common conceptions of Christians is that we need more of God in our lives. That’s absolutely true. But we tend to see it as a matter of adding Christ onto our already-existing life. Jesus’ first two disciples had a different idea. They didn’t invite Jesus to come to their village to preach. They invited themselves to his campsite or wherever he was staying to spend time with him. (Sounds pretty bold to me. Or did they just stammer out the first thing that came to their minds–which was what was in their hearts? Whichever it was–I love it.)

At any rate, these Galileans (Andrew and maybe John) had rare insight into how to get more of God in their lives. They didn’t try to fit a little of him into their life, they decided to join him in his.

They understood how to really fill a cup (or, in this case, their lives). You can hold a cup under a faucet and collect all the water it will hold. Or you can submerge the cup in a lake. The water will not only completely surround the outside of the cup but will surge into it. Andrew and John had the second idea of how to get more of God in their lives. They decided to jump into the water of Jesus’ world. No wonder he later chose them as two of his twelve trainees for apostleship.

They didn’t invite him to live in their “house,” they moved all the way into his.

Longing to Belong

FriendsWhere did this come from–this desire for connectedness with other people? There may be several reasons, but the one that trumps all others, to my way of thinking, is this: God is highly social, and he created us in his image.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have never been alone. They always have each other’s company, and thrive in it. The strong bond of love and partnership that exists among them stands out to me in examples like these:

  • Twice, when Jesus was on earth, the Father spoke from heaven, “This is my beloved Son.”
  • John 3:16 does not say: “The Son so loved the world that he came, so that whoever believes in him should not perish . . .” If I had written it, that’s what I would have said. After all, Jesus loved us so much he volunteered to die for us. But Jesus highlighted his Father’s love: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son“–showing amazing empathy for how hard it was for his Father to send him.
  • When Jesus described for his disciples what the Holy Spirit would do for them, he said,  “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me” (John 15:26). The Holy Spirit’s whole passion is to help us know Jesus better.

The three Persons of the Trinity are each other’s greatest fans. They know what a rich relationship is all about. It shouldn’t surprise us that such a social God would say:

“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).

God sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6).

 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Why do we crave connectedness to God and to people? We were created for close, supportive relationships–relationships full of delight and satisfaction. Don’t be afraid to talk to God about your social needs and challenges. He will help bring health into that part of your life.

I Belong to Somebody

A pesky fly kept hovering around my three-year-old granddaughter Nikki and me as we glided back and forth on the porch swing. I brushed it away a few times then began singing a folk tune:

Shoo, fly; don’t bother me

Shoo, fly; don’t bother me

Shoo, fly; don’t bother me

For I belong to somebody.

Nikki & Connor

Nikki & Connor

Flippantly, I asked Nikki, “Do you belong to somebody?”

She nodded vigorously.

“Well!” I thought, “I wonder what she’s thinking.”

I soon found out. In a tiny whisper, she said, “Mommy, Daddy, Baby Connor.”

She had a warm, secure sense of belonging.

Some of us don’t. The good news is: regardless of the breakdown of human relationships, we can all feel special and connected–because of God’s overwhelming love for us.

There are some statements in the Bible that melt my heart.

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself (Exodus 19:4 NIV).  The Lord is talking here about how he rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and brought them–not “to Mt. Sinai,” not “to the the Promised Land,” but “to myself.”

As Jesus rode in Jerusalem a few days before his arrest and crucifixion, he said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37 NIV). 

During Jesus’s last prayer in the company of his disciples, he prayed first for his disciples then for all who would believe on him. In that part of his prayer (which includes me, and hopefully you) he said:  “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory” (John 17:24). It wasn’t good enough to finally be returning to his home in heaven–he wanted to take his beloved followers with him.

Such is the tender affection of God toward us! Such is his desire to gather us into a relationship with him that will heal our hearts and put us on the path to total fulfillment.

I just re-read today some words by Francis Frangipane, founder of River of Life Ministries in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He said that “everything that defines us” is influenced by what we believe about the true nature of God. “If we do not believe God cares about us, we will be overly focused on caring for ourselves. If we feel insignificant or ignored by God, we will exhaust ourselves by seeking significance from others. However, once we realize that God truly loves us . . . we can find rest and renewed power for our souls.” *

There’s not one of us who cannot “belong to somebody”–to God, our maker, our shepherd, our redeemer, our Father, our divine friend. What if you want to believe that, but you’re just not feeling it? Read the Bible, looking for his care and his affection. Think deeply about it. Talk to him. Tell him you want to really know him.  You want to know he loves you. He has been waiting for you to ask.

 Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:8 NIV).

___________

*Francis Frangipane, And I Will Be Found By You, (Cedar Rapids: Arrow Publications, 2009), p.83.

 

SUPER Solutions

skyscraperThere are solutions, and then there are SOLUTIONS. If you have a problem right now, you’d probably prefer a SOLUTION.

So did a blind man called Bartimaeus, whose story appears in the Bible. One day, while he was hanging out by the side of the road begging, a noisy crowd came his way. When he found out the Rabbi Jesus was in the crowd, he began to shout out to him. Long story short—Jesus stopped and asked him what he wanted.

Now Bartimaeus could’ve said, “I need a seeing-eye dog, but I’m on a long waiting list.” Or he could’ve said, “If you could just get me a white-tipped cane so I can get around town. . .”

But—no! He wasn’t interested in stopgap solutions. He didn’t want minimal relief. What he really wanted was . . . well, let’s see:

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see” (Mark 10:51 NIV).

He wanted to see. He didn’t want natural aids to cope with blindness; he wanted a SUPERnatural end to the blindness.

Have you set your sights too low when you pray about your situations? Are you afraid to ask God for what you really want? Don’t be. He does not have favorites. What he asked Bartimaeus applies to you: “What do you want me to do for you?”

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Have you asked for what you really want but not received it yet? The Bible is full of instruction in the art of believing and receiving. That’s the next step after asking. Some previous posts on believing and receiving are:

Mustard Seeds and MountainsHe Didn’t Let Go, and Vending Machine or Parent