Thursday, March 12, 2015

You do not have because you do not ask

"You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask." (James 4:2, HCSB)
I distinctly remember the first time I read those words in the book of James.  I can recall it so vividly because it was the first time that I, since becoming a Christian, put down the Bible and declared, "Now THAT simply couldn't be true!"

(I still had much to learn about humility.)

Why did those words illicit such a strong response?  It was because I could not believe that any Christian would lack something simply because of not praying!  "Why in the world," I wondered, "would any Christian NOT ask God for something?  Isn't it a basic truth of the gospel that Christians are God's adopted children, and that they need only ask for an egg to receive one?  James must be mistaken!"

(I still had much to learn about human nature, too.)

Yet my baby-Christian brain was really onto something here!  Should it not be a wonder to us that we are ever lacking?  Should our lack not immediately draw us into fervent, desperate prayer?

Yet it often doesn't.  It doesn't for me, anyway.  I've begun countless nights of calls without even acknowledging the very God who called me to do fundraising in the first place.  I've sent out dozens of written appeals without the smallest request of the Father who gave me people to ask.  I've arrived at so many in-person appointments without pausing at all to ask for my Savior's intercession.  Why should I have been at all surprised when my lack of asking lead to lack of having?

In fact, there's only one thing that amazes me more than my lack of asking - and that's my lack of lacking.

If God were only just, He'd be perfectly righteous in denying me every unasked-for penny.  Rather, our God is infinitely gracious even in the midst of our unending pride!  What a wonder that He would give me any appointments or any donors when I've assumed so often that I'd earned them all myself!  In my blindness I'd go about thinking that I was being so competent and so diligent and so faithful while He patiently waited week after week for me to repent and see His grace behind my so-called works.  What kind of love is this???

While I no longer doubt the truthfulness of James's words, I wish I could say that after so many years I've finally mastered James's challenge to ask.  I haven't.  But I do ask much more often now.  And when I do, I ask out of a far more grateful heart than I'd had years ago.

(I'll always have much to learn about the gospel, too - praise God!)