We all know there are many Scriptures that call God our Heavenly Father. Even non-Christians know that God is known as Father. If you’re going to even consider that God is real, then viewing Him as a father-figure is not a stretch. Applying all the Scriptures about God to His character, we know He is a perfect, all-knowing, righteous,and just Dad. Check this out . . .
“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 NIV
Here’s Peterson’s take in The Message: “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?”
The idea in these verses is that God will not try to deceive or trick us. He doesn’t do this: “Well, I can’t pull off what he really wants, so I’ll see if he notices a fake. Maybe he’ll accept this instead.” Or this, “He’s expecting this to happen, but, man, I can’t wait to see his face when he realizes he’s not getting that, but this!” The spirit of this passage is “If a dad who’s a sinner can raise a reasonably healthy, balanced child, then how much better we can be if God raises us!”
When we were kids, we loved hearing the word “yes.” We hated the word “no.” Sometimes a “no” will come from a parent, not because the parent is thinking what is best for the child at the moment, but simply from being busy, tired, distracted, worn out, disinterested, (did I say tired? . . . oh, yeah), and countless other selfish motives. So, when we read the verses above and think God is saying no to us, it would never be because He’s busy, distracted, tired, or any of that. So, a no from God is for two reasons: The first . . . when what we desire is sin and against His nature and He doesn’t want us going against His nature. That’s not best for us, so He says no. For example, “Lord, I’m so unhappy, I want out of this marriage and I know you want me to be happy and fulfilled.” God would say no in that situation. He knows the ultimate best for you and your family is to stick it out and make it work.
Then there’s the second reason, which is the real point of today’s thought. He says no because He is directing and protecting us. When my oldest son (almost 21 now) was about 2 years old and we’d be out in the front yard playing, he went through a short phase where he thought it was funny to try and run into the street before I could get to him. Do you know how many times he actually made it into the street, even though he really wanted to get into that street and feel the concrete under his toes? . . . Never, not once, zip. Why? Because I was alert, bigger, and faster. He didn’t make it to the street, not because I was a mean, controlling fun-hater, but because I was directing and protecting him. (Finally, the realization that his hind-end would hurt each time he tried it, stopped him. Yes, for us all, discipline is an end-result of consistent disobedience.)
I’m at some major crossroads in my life right now at 51 years old. I didn’t really choose the crossroads, God did. My Father did. He called me to these crossroads. He’s called me to a decision about some things. As I’m walking in this new journey, He has, is, and will likely continue to tell me no on some things. It can be frustrating, because my end goal is not my success, as much as His will. I am tempted at times to think He’s trying to give me a snake when I asked for a fish dinner. But, I have to keep reminding myself that He is simply doing what I was doing with my son many years ago . . . He’s just directing and protecting me as I play in His yard. He’s keeping me from running into the street where I can get hurt.
Having not grown-up with a Christian father or even an emotionally or mentally healthy father*, I have to remind myself of the truth about God the Father all the time. So, when I have someone on the other end of the phone say, “It’s a no,” or “they decided to go another direction,” I can know that God is directing and protecting me. Now, that also makes the yes’s that much better, because when they come, it’s God telling me, “Yeah, son, go play. This is the right situation for you. This is what I have for you.”
So, the next time your heart is disappointed when you’ve been praying for a yes, remember, you just received divine direction and protection.
*Chapter 4 of The Knight’s Code book is all about this concept and contains part of my personal testimony.