Thursday, October 24, 2019

Be Careful What You Ask For

As I thought about a recent sermon on prayer, and the way we sometimes ask God for things He knows will be harmful in the long run, I remembered a story from my childhood. It comes from Greek mythology - the story of a king who wanted it all.

There once lived a kIng who received an amazing gift. King Midas, for that was his name, had found favor in the eyes of one of his gods. This god told King Midas he could have one wish for anything he desired. The king didn’t hesitate for a moment. He told the god he wanted to have the ability to turn anything he touched into gold.

The god, although not THE God, had wisdom enough to advise King Midas to take a minute to think his request through, but the king had no patience for that. He assured him that the golden touch was exactly what he wanted. His wish was granted.

The moment the god left, the king reached out and touched his throne. Immediately the wood became gold. Ecstatic, he began racing around the palace, touching everything in sight and watching in utter delight as one thing after another glittered and shone. He walked outdoors into his garden and plucked a rose from a nearby bush. At his touch the delicate petals became hard and shiny. It gave him a moments’ pause to see the harshness of what had been so delicate, but he shrugged his shoulders and went inside to get something to eat. All that turning things to gold had given him quite an appetite.

King Midas pulled his now golden chair up to his gold table and reached for a bunch of grapes. He popped one in his mouth and nearly broke a tooth on the hard golden globe. 
He threw down the grapes and reached for an apple, but it too became brittle and hard. 

The realization of what he had done brought him to tears. How would he be able to eat or do the simplest of tasks. He began to sob loudly. His daughter came into the room at that moment and upset by her father’s cries she ran to him. The moment she touched him she was transformed into a golden statue. The king was beside himself.

He hurriedly ran to the god who had granted him his wish and begged him to take it back. The god took pity on him and told him to go wash his hands in a certain river. King Midas dipped his hands in the river reversing the spell and returning everything to its original state - including his daughter.

A silly story, perhaps, but a good illustration of what can happen when we ask amiss. We are prone to see only our immediate need, but God sees the whole picture. What to us seems needful and good may be the very thing God knows will harm us in the end. Unlike a make-believe story, there are things that simply cannot be undone. At the very least, we may miss the good He had in mind for us by insisting on having our own way.

God is always faithful to answer our prayers. However, He doesn’t always answer in the way we would like Him to. Often the answer is yes. Sometimes it’s no and at other times He wants us to wait. 

When He says no, we need to trust that He knows what is best for us. If we persist, He might just give us what we’re asking for - and we could very well live to regret it. 

When we trust His wisdom and goodness, the day may come when we realize His “no” was truly for our good and that He had something else in mind for us - something born out of His great love and care for us. 

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."