Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

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You Don’t Know What You’re Asking.

what askingJesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.” [Mark 10:38a]

James and John thought they could handle whatever Jesus handled. So do you and me and every single person who has ever lived. Some of us are just less foolish about asking for it out loud. But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t asking.

Just a little recognition and praise for all our hard work and dedication. Just a little pay-back for all our efforts and willingness to do without. Just a little of that much deserved thank-you for not being like so many others who don’t have time for God and their fellow-man!

Others might let it all go to their head, but not us … no we would be markedly humble in receiving what was due us. We would handle it with as much grace as Jesus Himself! Or so we think. And so we ask … even if it is only ever in our heart-of-hearts.

But then, we rarely know what we are asking do we? The things we so often want are precisely the things that are no good for us. Would we really want recognition for our work … all of it … not just the good stuff? Do we really want payback for all that we really deserve?

In an effort to be fair, would we be just as willing to give up what we have for all the extra we’ve enjoyed, just as quickly as we clamour to be repaid for the little we’ve done without? And are we really any different from anyone else? No. We, like they, can’t handle what we are asking for.

But Jesus can. And that is why we walk with Him every year to the garden and the cross and the tomb. He was willing to take the credit for all our sin, even though He had none of His own. He was ready to suffer all the divine payback for our transgressions even though it was His own Law being transgressed. He was happy to do without comfort, or honour, or peace, or support … walking the last painful steps to His death all alone … so that you and I might never have to receive what we actually ask for.

We may not know what we are asking, but He has always known how to answer … for our eternal good!

May you receive all that He asked for you this blessed Easter season.


Life in a Bowl

It was shortly after midnight.  I was digging through the cupboards in my kitchen, having been roused from bed by a son who was sick to his stomach.  Up to this point everything had been happening on auto-pilot (having been through this, or similar scenarios many times before).  And as I stood there with sleep in my eyes and the family’s affectionately named “puke bowl” in my hands the question slid into my muddled mind … when did my life change?

The question sprang to mind as I held that big green plastic bowl in my hands in the darkened room.  Once upon a time this bowl held other things than vomit.  It was a gift to a young couple making their way through seminary.  A big plastic popcorn bowl full of little treats aimed at fun and frivolity for an overworked and often-stressed student and his wife. We were so grateful for it, and we used it often.  Whether it was a night of popcorn in front of the TV or chips set out for an evening with friends, that big green bowl was right there and full of snacks.  Those were the days.

But as I said, that all changed.

We are still grateful for it, and we still use it often … but probably never for popcorn again!  It has changed from a bowl of fun and frivolity to a bowl of humble service.  It is no longer trotted out and set on tables when guests come by. (Especially now that they might know what we do with it!) Now it mostly sits in the cupboard until those dark nights or early mornings when it is placed beside the sick bed, ready to be filled in a desperate moment’s notice.

And as I took that once happy old bowl into the bedroom to perform its inglorious duty, I saw in it a metaphor for life …  my life in a bowl.  For somehow, by the subtle workings of God, my life too has changed over the years.  The glory seeking days of youth, the endless quests for fun and frivolity, the regular need to escape from the tedium of work and stress … all of these have now changed.  I wish I could say that they were gone, (just as I wish I could say that a bowl once regularly used for catching sick-up never gets used for other things) … but you know it just isn’t true.  Better to say that these juvenile pursuits have been tempered along the way.

It began when I took on the vocation of husband, promising to share my life with another, do everything in my power for my wife and for her sake.  It continued each time I was called anew to the vocation of father, giving away even more of myself and my juvenile claims to those who were now in my care, my responsibility.  Sometimes gradually, sometimes in flashes of insight my perspective began to change along with my duties.  Thus the well-practiced midnight run down the hallway with a puke-bowl in my hands.

Yet in thinking of all this in those few late night moments, I wasn’t sad or regretful.  I didn’t mourn the loss of a popcorn bowl, or of carefree days of sleeping through the night.   For these are the days I long for!  There is a joy and a satisfaction in these humble acts of service to my loved ones, that no amount of fun or frivolity ever got me.  These late-night dashes for the infamous bowl, the bedside reassurances, fixing of covers and the tucking in again … these are truly glorious duties – my greatest achievements.  “If my life is a bowl waiting to be filled,” I thought to myself stepping on a toy and staggering into my son’s dresser, “it may not be what I would have chosen in my younger days – but it has never been more full!”