Which of you, if his son asks for...

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?..."

And which of you, if his son asks for a pocketknife, will give it to him without first showing him how to use it safely?

If you know me in person your probably know that I usually have a pocketknife with me. In fact, if I have my jacket I will have a small multi-tool as well. I use them all the time and am often glad I have them. Thus, I fully intend for my children to have them as well (when they reach the appropriate age, of course). But I would be remiss, as a father, if I were to one day just hand my child a knife with nary a word of instruction or caution. Knives are tools. They are incredibly useful. Though they seem less and less necessary in our technological age I do think that the ability to properly use a knife is still an important skill to have. However, knives are also dangerous. They are dangerous if approached wrongly (as a weapon) or casually (as simple and safe). 

I plan, when the day comes, to start my children with small pocket knives; mini-swiss army type knives. I plan to walk alongside of them as they learn safety and use rules. I plan to make sure they know that you should always keep your knife sharp and you should always cut away from yourself. Though I am not perfect I plan to be a good father. 

How much more so our Father in Heaven? Have you ever considered that the Lord desires to answer your prayers, or gift you in ways that you cannot imagine, but you are simply not ready? That more training and preparation must occur before you can receive rightly that which the Lord has for you? This is but one of the reasons it is so important to listen in prayer as well as speak. How else can the Lord speak to you of how He wishes to shape you and change you for His purposes? This is but one of the reasons it is so important to reflect on your days and weeks past as well as simply live and plan into the future. How else can you discern and recognize the hand of God preparing you and shaping you through His providence and plan? 

I have heard it said that when you pray God may answer with a 'yes' or a 'no' or a 'not yet.' Of course this is a simplification; contained within each of those answers are varieties nigh on the infinite. One of them is "yes, but not until you are ready." 

Let us not forget that the Lord God is our good father who knows how to give good gifts and our good father who prepares us for the proper use of those gifts. Let us not fail to listen for His response, submit to His guidance, and watch for His hand. And let us remember that His grace extends far beyond our mistakes and far beyond our readiness. 


Charlotte said...

My heart takes comfort in the line: yes, but not until you are ready.

Anonymous said...

We prayed for a father in the prime of his life with young children, who was suffering from cancer. He died of his cancer. What say you to this? Is God's answer "yes", "no", "not yet", or "yes, but not until you are (or he is, or they are) ready", or some other?

Roger Hui

Andrew said...

The father died; if you prayed for his healing, the answer must have been no.

There is so much more that can be said about the whole issues of life, death, sickness, and when God says no... more than I can put in a comment.