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Posts Tagged ‘obstacles’

I’ve always wondered about the sequencing of this verse: ask, seek, and knock. Each of these actions has a promise of success. Yes, but first there must be intent and choice, a decision to do something different.

Matthew 7:7
Ask and it [the good gifts] will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

When I ask, I am unsure about the present situation. I am curious about the possibilities. I am thinking that there might be a better way, a solution that is not immediately obvious. I am asking for information about the way to the good gifts, those things I may need in life to move forward. What do I need for my next step in life Lord? I’m just askin’.

When I seek, I am a little more sure of the end result. I’m thinking there is something specific that will improve my situation, that will bring clarity, that will meet my need. And I am encouraged to look. I have asked and I am getting the green light to go for it.

And finally, I am knocking for one of two reasons: I am announcing myself (I have arrived at the place of discovery). Or, I get there and I am facing an obstacle that I cannot move on my mind. It must be opened from the other side.

So what are the good gifts that are on the other side, at the end of my search, in the response to my questions?

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” [Matthew 7:9-11]

It’s in the moment, in the now, that thing or knowledge or revelation which is needful. And not before. The good gifts are not the luxuries of life. The good gifts are the perfect gifts, those which we cannot, in that instant, provide for ourselves.

What good gift do I need right now, sweet Jesus?

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A Restraining Spirit

That Paul, once he was in a groove, it was tough to get him to listen to anyone else. He was single minded. How often have I allowed my single mindedness to prevent me from hearing sound counsel or trust that “waiting” is part of the plan?

Acts 21:4b-5a
Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way.

When is our struggle to reach a goal simply an attack from enemy lines and when is that struggle the restraining pressure of the Holy Spirit? I’m not sure I always know the difference. This is particularly difficult when the original goal seemed compelled by God in the first place. Did God change? Probably not…

But, isn’t it possible that the methods or the path I am taking to accomplish my goal may have strayed from a better plan?

When Mike and I decided to adopt our teenage daughter, Lily, we felt sure and confident that this was God’s will for both her life and for ours. But as the weeks stretched into months and one obstacle after another kept daunting our efforts, I began to doubt the entire process. Had I missed God? Why would God have this girl languish in an orphanage for two years while we were stumbling over bureaucratic red tape? I went into overdrive: there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Since our agency’s authorization to operate in St. Petersburg was still on hold, I found a Russian lawyer who would handle our adoption privately. This would process would be very tricky and expensive, but I would not be blocked. About two months later, the agency got their paperwork and we decided to continue with them.

Here’s the end of the story: at the court hearing, the new director of the orphanage turned out to be the crux to our successful adoption hearing. He spoke fearlessly before the judge who had been of dead against our adoption. He was our champion. This man had only been the director of Lily’s orphanage for about a month. The previous director was much too political to fight the judge (he was on a trajectory to bigger things). I believe our long wait was necessary to insure all of the pieces were in place, particularly this new director.

So, what is the moral of this story? God is sovereign. If God restrains me, then I must adjust my personal time schedule to God’s timing. This is particularly true when circumstances are completely out of our control.

In my case, it wasn’t the obstacles but my attitude toward the obstacles that was the problem. If God wanted to stop me and the adoption, that could have been easily done. In the same way, God could have stopped Paul from going to Jerusalem. I still think Paul was pushing the process a little because of his nature. But, in the end, God is God. And even if I (or Paul) blow it or force an issue, God is there to pick up the pieces. It’s just easier on everyone if we pay attention along the way.

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