When I was little, I remember my dad occasionally leaving notes on my mum’s shopping list. ‘I love you’, ‘you’re sweet’ and such. He probably still does. Shopping for a family of twelve, you can imagine Mum’s list is pretty organised and detailed. It’s actually an A4 sheet with all the things she tends to buy split up into the aisles they’re located so she only has to go through and circle what we need that particular shop. Anything extra is written on the sides, so a handwritten note tends to stick out.
I found her list sitting on the bench one day in my early teens and thought it would be fun to leave my own notes. So, at random places amongst plain flour, bananas and washing powder, I wrote ‘I love you’s. And then also put a nice thick circle around ‘chocolate bars’ and wrote Cherry Ripe beside it, no doubt with a smiley face. I knew Mum would know it was me. My writing is very different from hers and anyone else’s in the family. I also didn’t think she’d actually buy one.
But she did. I came home from school that day to find a big Cherry Ripe sitting on the bench waiting for me. I was pretty shocked, and felt incredibly guilty, much as I probably enjoyed eating it. Keeping in mind, I have nine siblings and none of them got one…
I mentioned that memory to my mum the other day as we were buying Cherry Ripes for a cheesecake, telling her how guilty I’d felt accidentally asking for a Cherry Ripe. She laughed and commented that I should have asked for more.
I probably should have, knowing how incredibly generous my parents are. Not that they gave us whatever we wanted growing up (thankfully!) but Mum’s one of those amazing people who knows just what will make people feel special – like what all her kids’ favourite chocolates/flavour coffees are. Not to say I should have asked for a car or something but I could have been a lot more creative than a chocolate bar. (Two chocolate bars! :p)
I limit God a lot like that too, far more than I should. I timidly come forward, asking him for something all the while feeling guilty for asking because it’s so inconsequential. Or I sort my prayers into level of importance, putting limits on how many he can answer.
God, much as I’d love to get rid of this pain, [this person]’s salvation is so much more important. And [this friend] really needs their house to sell, and could you please heal [this other friend] because their pain is really affecting their life and please, can you find me an agent for my book? (Oh, boy, that’s a lot of miracles I’m asking for…) God, if you could just answer one, could you please, please, please bring [this person] to you because it just breaks me watching them live day by day without you. I’d take that over healing or a book contract any day. Oh, and tomorrow is… actually, don’t worry about that. It’s not that important.
And so on. As if God can only answer one prayer. As if he qualifies some prayers as more important than others. As if he’s not the loving Father who can’t wait to have us ask for something impossible so he can prove just how big he is.
Here’s the truth: God is sooooo much bigger than we can imagine and his power even greater than that. He loves to do the impossible and really is waiting for us to ask for it so he can prove it. Nothing is too hard for him nor any prayer too big. He could answer every single one of those ‘big miracle’ prayers of mine in an instant without even breaking a sweat.
My challenge is to stop making him human and let him be God. Stop feeling guilty for asking what he’s just waiting to bless me with. Because God is big, and powerful, and definitely not limited by our human minds or laws.
What big or little things are you too timid to ask for? Go on, ask away! You’ll never know what the answer will be if you don’t have the courage to ask.
Hebrews 4:14-16 Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.