I am picking up a new habit. Very much like flossing every day or remembering to exhale on occasion. 🙂 Except this habit is much more revolutionary. I have begun to practice asking.
In Psalm 23, David talks about God as Jehovah-Jireh, the Provider: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” (1) Throughout the whole Psalm (Psalm 23 (NIV)), every need or situation we could ever experience is addressed. Fear? Exhaustion? Confusion? Persecution? Joy? In all of these things He is with us and taking care of us. Nothing is forgotten or overlooked, and only bright things are planned for our future.
And yet. Does anyone feel the way that I do, that somehow God is too busy, or important, or (gasp) snobbish to care about the things of my life? Or, in that same vein, that He picks and chooses what is “worthy” of His attention? Anything that brings Him glory (i.e., seeing people brought to Him) gets a thumbs-up but anything else (i.e., replacing my worn wardrobe) receives His unbridled scorn. How dare I ask for such a thing! Or, conversely, that is something that is so “little” that I should take care of it myself and not bother Him with it.
But! And what a wonderful word that is! But, it isn’t so. Jesus tells us that God knows every sparrow and when it falls and that He numbers the hairs on our head. How much more does He care about us! (see Mark 6:25-34 for more about His provision) He delights in giving and waits eagerly for His children to make their requests known. We have not because we ask not. He has already given us His only Son, how much more will He give us all things! (see Matthew 7:10-12 for more)
I have been practicing, then, repeating to myself at all moments: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. It’s seeping into my thoughts which then generate actions and proclamations of faith.
Still. I am not and never have been comfortable with asking. Partly for the reasons I’ve already listed, but also partly because I feel unworthy of receiving anything. Why should I get anything and how pertinent of me to step out of my “place.” My “place” being that of a subservient rug on which people indifferently wipe their feet. My “place” being that of the sacrifice. My “place” being that of Cinderlla forever doomed to the cinder pile. But that, too, is wrong thinking. The Bible does not say that God loves, values, and cares for everyone in the world except for Ang. Or everyone except for you. To say that His Word does not apply to you or to me is to say it does not apply to anyone, that it is false.
With a shaky faith, I am asking. I am asking for healing in my body. I am asking for provision in finances. I am asking for grace in relationships. And yes, I am even asking for the ability to replace threadbare clothing. While some of these things may seen impossible or even silly to me, I know that nothing is beyond His ability or desire and that I am not too difficult of a child for Him to handle.
I am inspired by George Muller, who every morning would pray for food and provisions for the orphans in his care. I was reflecting on that this morning and thought, Wow! It’s one thing to ask and believe for something small for myself, but Muller was asking for necessary sustenance for multiple children every day!!! And here I am thinking that God cannot or will not meet my needs, or that it’s wrong to rely on Him. I want the kind of faith that says, “Lord, I can’t do this, but You can and You will!”
I start this faith process by reminding myself that He is good and that He is my shepherd, meaning no matter how lost, or stupid, or useless, or scared I can be, He is there performing every action for my care. And this is the real testament to His goodness — He tops just my day-to-day needs with gloriously abundant goodies and plans: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (6)