Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ask. Seek. Knock.

About a week ago, the path that the Lord has had me on for the past year took a left turn. For several weeks I sensed a change coming down the road. I didn't know when it would happen or what would happen when I got to that inevitable fork in the road.

Now that I'm at that fork in the road, I've been asking the Lord to show me which path to take next. The gate's been closed on the path I was on. So now I find myself slowly shuffling down this new path. Frankly, this path looks about the same so far, but I know there will be new sights along the way.

I'm shuffling along this way--not skipping, not running, not even walking at a normal pace--simply because I'm carefully watching to see if God has another course correction ahead. Also, if you think about it, skipping is rather carefree, running sometimes connotes urgency or fear, and a steady walk implies a confidence that one knows where they're headed. None of those really fit me right now. So I shuffle along slowly because I'm looking up at the One who will show me the way and I don't want to trip.

I'm looking up because I've been praying for the Lord to show me what's next. So what's the answer I've been getting all week?

“Keep on asking, and you will receive
what you ask for. Keep on seeking, 
and you will find. Keep on knocking,  
and the door will be opened to you.  
For everyone who asks, receives. 
Everyone who seeks, finds. 
And to everyone who knocks, 
the door will be opened. 
- Matthew 7:7-8

Huh? Interesting answer. This verse came to my attention several times this week from different sources. Scripture answers are always good, but sometimes they leave me with more questions than when I started. Questions like...

Do I keep asking for what I was asking for before? Do I ask for something new? I am supposed to start seeking on my own or wait? I don't see any doors to knock on here on this path, Lord. {sigh}

Well, I didn't let that discourage me too much. I just decided to do some research and listened to a couple of my favorite Bible teachers online. Kay Arthur has been teaching from the Holy Land about the Life of Christ leading up to Easter. I chose one of her programs and it happened to be about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Since she was teaching about prayer it fit right into what I was hoping to learn. The lessons I learned is that we are to keep watching and keep praying until we have the victory. We are to keep watching and keep praying until we can actually say, Not my will, but thine be done--and mean it. The flesh will be weak and we'll want to give up, even if the spirit is willing to keep going.

From Charles Stanley I learned that asking God may sometimes mean we'll sit back and watch him work, but seeking may mean God wants us involved in the process of the prayer to be answered. It really depends on what God is telling us to do. But, what we definitely should do is persevere in prayer. Persevere means to continue firmly and don't give up!  We are to keep asking until we have an answer. When God tells us to ask, seek, and knock, that means the answer is coming. So often we want to quit after a few weeks of persistent prayer when it appears nothing is happening or it's not happening on our schedule.

Yes, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Just like those disciples waiting on Jesus in Gethsemane, we're supposed to keep watch but we fall asleep or get bored. I like an example Charles Stanley uses of a farmer who plants seeds in the ground and after two weeks he doesn't see anything sprouting yet. The farmer gives up and digs up all the seeds. If you know anything about gardening, you know that seeds take time--longer than two weeks!

Finally, we know that God loves us if we are His children and wants to give us an answer. Stanley says that sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes the answer is wait. Sometimes the answer is, "I have something better in mind for you." God's silence means that He is working out all the details for His plan.

The rest of this passage on effective prayer taught by Jesus goes on to say...

“You parents—if your children ask for 
a loaf of bread, do you give them
a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish,
do you give them a snake? Of course not!  
So if you sinful people know how to give
good gifts to your children, how much 
more will your heavenly Father give 
good gifts to those who ask him. 
- Matthew 7:9-11

So, I could start running or jogging down this new path and easily be distracted by the first shiny thing I see.

Or, I could keep shuffling along and wait on God for the best while I...
     Keep on Asking,
          Keep on Seeking, and
               Keep on Knocking.

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