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“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
When I was in 8th grade, I wished I had straighter hair so I could grow a mullet like the cool high school boys.
When I was in 11th grade, I wanted to paint a mural in my room that would be inspired by the songs of Led Zeppelin.
When I was a freshman in college, I wanted to get my ear pierced.
Those embarrassing memories came together in just a few minutes of reflection. I am sure that if I took some extended time to look back on my life, I would be able to come up with many more things that I was sure I wanted at the time, that I was positive were great ideas, that I can now look back on and say “I am so glad I didn’t get what I wanted.”
Jesus tells us that our God is a good Father who gives good gifts to his children. He tells his disciples in Matthew 7:9-10, “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? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” As a good Father, God knows that often a “no” answer is the best answer we can receive to our prayers, even if we can’t understand why. He knows that if we got everything our hearts desired, the results would not be pretty (although that mullet would have looked pretty sweet, I’m sure).
It is easy to look back and laugh at the things we thought were good ideas at the time, that now cause us embarrassment. It’s harder to look at our lives today and guess which things that our hearts are set on are going to cause us to shake our head ten years down the road. Is that promotion you are praying for really going to make your life better? Is that relationship you are longing for truly going to lead you closer to God? Are those things you are saving for really going to be worth it in the long run?
The truth is that we don’t have an eternal perspective on our lives, and we often really want and pray for things that are bad for us. This is why Proverbs 3:5-6 exhorts us to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” God alone has the eternal perspective to know what will bring you life, and what will lead you to death. Lay down your desires, submit to him your wants, and seek first His kingdom, trusting that He is a good Father who knows what you truly need.
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