When I was four, I won a coloring contest. I don’t remember the picture or actually winning; however, I do recall flipping through the pages of a Hasbro toy catalog. You see, the prize was $100 in toys. That was a lot of toys in 1981, $282.89 worth in today’s market-according to the Inflation Calculator-when toys weren’t high-tech, expensive and causing children’s brain synapses to misfire. I also remember not being able to pick out $100 worth of toys that really appealed to me, so I suppose my mom chose the rest of them.
I can’t even imagine now what that even felt like. Oh, my naïve, little self.
When I was a preteen, I’d dream of having enough money to own horses (the Black Stallion, please) and as a teenager, dream of having the money to buy real Guess? clothes, instead of my mom bringing home a yardsale find, carefully removing, and sewing the Guess? label onto my back pocket. I view that now as an act of love.
As a young mom, the desires grew and they were far more expensive. I’d dream of how I’d spend a million dollars, but once I took out taxes, it didn’t really go that far. A new house, a new car, grand vacations, a home decorator, school loans obliterated, the boys’ college paid for, a bi-weekly maid, a weekly massage…the list could go on and on.
Oh, my naïve, little self.
As 40 encroaches on my fleeting youth, I find my desires changing yet again. I don’t want a horse, I wouldn’t be caught dead in the Guess? stonewash of the 80’s, and I prefer old houses and old cars. College for the boys would still be nice, as would a weekly massage, but old desires doesn’t burn as intensely as they once did.
So what is that I want? What is it that I would ask for?
My husband preached a sermon last week from John 16:16-33 and in the middle, he asked the question, “how ‘any’ is anything?”
“Truly, truly I say I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” (John 16:23b-24 NASB, emphasis mine)
The words of Jesus. Six different times He says to ask and we will receive.
Well, I can tell you right now that I never awoke to The Black Stallion in my backyard, and Edith from Merry Maids never made it to my porch.
So does anything really mean anything?
It’s a touchy subject, given all the “name-it, claim-it” preaching out there. I’m still waiting for the power of positive thinking to park a 1962 Volkswagen Minibus in my garage. Not going to happen, people.
So what might Jesus have meant?
He actually qualifies His statements in a couple of other passages:
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7, NASB)
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give it to you.” (John 15:16, NASB)
As the roots of my faith dig down deep, and as my relationship with my Heavenly Father grows, I find myself desiring completely different things than I used to. I don’t desire “stuff.” Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of material things that I would love to have, but when he asks me, “what do you really want?” all the “stuff” falls away.
What do I really want?
I want my boys to make it to heaven. I want to have joy in this life of ministry. I want to be able to find every silver lining. I want my speech to be always with grace. I want to be filled with wisdom and discernment. I want to be deaf to the enemy’s lies. I want to be a reflection of Jesus. I want to be filled to overflowing with his Spirit. I want to have peace in the midst of every storm.
I find that my desires are beginning to meld into his desires, and if I desire what he desires, then, and only then, I can ask for and receive anything I want.
“So that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:13b-14 NASB)
If what I’m asking for will not bring glory to the Father, I can hang it up. This thought has restructured my requests, simply because I’m not sure they would bring him glory, not to mention, they may not be in my own best interest.
Let me put it this way:
I’d do anything for my boys. Anything. I’d throw myself in front of a train, I’d give them the last morsel of food (I’d have to think long and hard if that food was Pad Thai), I’d stay up all night with them, I’d give them the last drink of water (although one of them would probably already be dead for all the fighting over it). You can’t really even put something like this into words. I’d die for my children.
HOWEVER, you and I both know that anything has its limitations. Even for someone who would give up her life for her offspring. I’m not going to go out and get them a baggie of cocaine if they asked for it. I’m not going to give in to their desire of a 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder. I’m not going to let them eat Ding Dongs and Big Macs for every meal. I’m not going to allow them pick up the latest single by Skalley Mental. I’m not going to leave them to hang out in their bedrooms with their girlfriends while I’m off shopping at the mall.
I’d do anything for those boys, but not anything.
And this is how I view the words of Jesus.
Anything, but not anything.
So, what is it that you are asking for?
Before you answer that, ask yourself two questions: “am I abiding in him?” and “will what I want bring God glory?”
You might just see your desires start to shift, which is a good thing especially if Guess? is on that list.