In my previous post I wrote about my desire to get eye surgery to correct my vision. It is a wonderful blessing to say that I underwent the procedure in late May and now my eyesight has improved to almost 20/20. That I was able to save the money and qualify for the surgery is enormously humbling, something for which I had alternately prayed and longed and complained. God is good, and he is more than good—he has the wisdom to know how much goodness we can handle.
Can you think of a time when God surprised you with an awesome gift, when he “open[ed] the windows of heaven and pour[ed] out for you such blessing” that it overwhelmed you? (Malachi 3:10 NKJV). Perhaps it was a financial lifeline in a rough time, or an encouraging word when you were angry or despondent. Perhaps it was meeting someone God intended you to spend your life with, or a job you always thought you would love. He can do all this, “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
There are certain things we have to remember when God gives us what we want:
1) Gifts are a sign of God’s mercy, not a result of our perfection. The Apostle Paul was blessed with one of the most successful ministries in history, yet he lamented that sin still plagued him (Romans 7:21-25). We must be careful not to think we have earned anything from God, since we always owe him more than we could give him (Matthew 18:24-27).
2) We should love God more than anything we get from him. Psalm 37 is often quoted as saying God will “give you the desires of your heart” (v. 4). Notice that this is conditioned upon placing God first in our desires: “Delight yourself in the Lord…Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (v. 4-5). We prioritize our wants and needs best when we make God our primary pursuit (Matthew 6:31-34).
3) God may give you what you want...after he changes what you want. We should never treat God like a Santa Claus figure who gives us our first, superficial desire without working an interior change in our lives. For instance, we might want money or power or fame, but God is not the kind of cheap, cruel genie who would grant us these distractions without showing us the truth behind those requests. As we become more honest with ourselves in God, we will realize we are filling our legitimate desires for companionship and human warmth with a want for outward signs of recognition and respect.
Many friends prayed for me during a hard recuperation from surgery. God has amazed us once again with his generosity. Now I read Mark 10:52 with new and grateful eyes: “Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.”
Anthony Otten has published stories in The Jabberwock Review, Valparaiso Fiction Review, and Wind. He has been a finalist for the Hargrove Editors' Prize in Fiction. Still: The Journal has published an excerpt from his novel. He lives in Kentucky.
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