Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Struggle with "Scorpions"

“But Daddy… I really want a scorpion!” was the take-away our almost 10-year-old daughter had from the Sunday morning sermon. As we laughed, I thought more on the message behind this pleading demonstrated by one of our pastors. I hate saying “no” to my kids simply because there isn’t enough money. As a parent, I would love to give my kids all the good things they request. And yet, there are times I have zero problems giving thema big, fat "NO" … because I know what they are requesting is far from being what is best for them.

My youngest has a way of hitting me up for candy every time I am distracted. It’s probably because she knows she’ll get a “yes”. She will be given just about anything to keep the peace. Just let me finish this phone conversation… or have undistracted time on the computer… or read a book to escape. Whatever the task at hand, I am more concerned with limited to no interruptions than actually considering if my daughter’s request is what is best for her. God is always concerned about what is best for us.
Recently, I gave in to the request to purchase a gargantuan container of cheese balls. (Parenting in the moment to avoid a tantrum in the store was probably my motivation.) What could it hurt? Well, when all my child wants is cheese balls in place of healthy meals and snacks, I know what it will hurt. It’s not healthy for her and God has given me the responsibility of doing what I can to create a healthy environment in our home. Because of this, even my daughter’s incessant pleading does not result in handing her the container (which is actually about the same size as her little body) just to make the begging cease. In these moments where I am actually parenting with the future in mind, my responses seem to include a little more wisdom.

We all have those "been-left empty-handed-moments" with the desires we present to God. But, here’s the thing… I don’t get to determine what is best for my life. In my opinion, the best outcome to the situation with my dad was healing from the aggressive form of cancer that had overtaken his body. I was certain that I knew what was best for my life. I still do... and it baffles me when God apparently disagrees.
Honestly, I still don’t see how my dad’s healing from cancer could have been a “scorpion”. But I still choose to believe that my Heavenly Father knows best. “God is a helper and a giver, and he gives good” is a statement I choose to agree with even when the circumstances seem to disagree. I have chosen to trust God… even when I don’t understand. He is the Creator of the Universe and He wants good things for me.

“Prayer is reliable. God responds.” And His plans really are best for us… even though we have obstacles to overcome as a result of our sinful choices. The fact that Jesus received a “no” from His Father because of me really penetrated my heart. Even in His request for another way, Jesus accepted God’s “no” and went to the cross for us. In the same way, we are able to trust that God always gives good.
It’s unlikely that our children will actually be requesting scorpions. Still, I hope the next time you find yourself responding with a “no” because you believe that is what is best for them, you'll stop to think about scorpions. It will remind you that God wants only the best for you as well.

And if your children need a snack... I realize cheese balls may not be the best option... but I have ample supply in the quest for some uninterrupted time alone.

"One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'” Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” - Luke 11:1-13

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