As Much As You Need
Luke 11:5, 7, “…and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves;…and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ ”
Far too many people (particularly those of us who use the term “professional” ministers) are living the life of the friend in Luke 11. In those quiet moments of honest desperation we often find ourselves sharing his sentiment, “…a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.” Note the context. The man’s life is interupted by the need of another. Someone has come to him. They have come at an inconvenient moment. It is late. The friend is tired. But his visitor is desperately tired. His visitor is also hungry. They have arrived at his doorstep looking to him for help and answers. But the friend quickly realizes he has “nothing” to give them. His desire to help is undone by his own bankruptcy. His compassion is undermined by his own spiritual lack.
And so he heads to the one from whom he expects provision. “Lend me three loaves.” Note that this cry arises not from some selfish desire for more. It is not about personal greed and comsumption. It is the longing of someone who desires to be a blessing. He is thinking primarily of the one in need. “Bless me that I might be a blessing,” is his desire. “Give to me that I in turn will have something to give to others,” is his request. He looks only to receive in order that he might return home and give away that which he has just received.
In the last note (“When You Feel Empty”) we took a look at 2 of the 5 lies that keep us from pursuing God in prayer. As a result, because of our prayerlessness, we settle for a life of emptiness. Over time the pain of our present situation diminishes us until we have learned to live with the pain. What used to once be a blinding pain has now become a dull ache. The situation is no different. We are no different. The only difference is that we have somehow found a place of complacency in the midst of our pain and lack. God’s desire is to take us from empty to full. He Himself declares, “I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.” Prayerlessness keeps us in the place of emptiness. Throughout the NT the people who received from Jesus were the people who asked of Jesus. May the revelation of these next two lies open our eyes to the bountiful blessing of prayer (see the previous note for the first two lies).
The Lie of Impossibility: “…the door has already been shut…” Many times we don’t pray or we cease to pray because we consider the situation to be impossible. What we once hoped for has now reached a point of impossibility. At one time it seemed slightly possible that it could happen but now it is beyond hope. If God was going to do anything, it needed to be done a long time ago. As the situation currently stands, it is impossible. Fill in the blank with your current need. Do you really believe God can do anything for you? Or do you embrace the fear that the door has already been closed? Let me remind you that even though the door is closed right now, the One who stands on the other side has the ability to open it. There is no closed door that He cannot open. “He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: ‘…Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut?,…’ ” He has also said, “…knock, and it will be opened to you.” Just because the door is closed right now does not mean it won’t be open tomorrow. Don’t give up or give in to the voice of despair. Keep knocking. Keep asking. The One who has the power to open that door is just on the other side of your present need. You might stand at the door with nothing right now. But once He opens the door you will leave with as much as you need.
The Lie of Inconvenience: “…my children and I are in bed;…” Imagine the inconvenience. The family has already gone to bed. If the man in the house gets up, he not only interrupts his own sleep but he will also disturb everyone else in the house. There are times when we consider our need a matter of inconvenience with God. We convince ourselves that we should just learn to do without. Stop bothering God becomes the mindset. Almost as if we were an aggravation to Him with our constant asking. We finally resolve the matter by denying our emptiness and telling ourselves to “suck it up“, “stop whining and complaining“, and “just learn to deal with it“. The Bible tells us that there is a tremendous value in learning to be content. It is one of the marks of spiritual maturity. However, the Bible also teaches us that our heavenly Father delights in giving good things to those who ask of Him. There will be those seasons in my spiritual walk when I will need to be content. But even in the leanest of times He will always provide all that I need. The key here is that the man had “nothing.” He left with “as much as he needed” (not selfishly wanted). Between the place of his need and the point of provision lay his persistent refusal to accept anything less than God’s best for his life. My asking is not an inconvenience. Rather, it is a source of Divine joy. God delights when I come to Him, recognizing Him as my sole source. What greater affirmation of His deity than the recognition of my lack and His fullness?
Why am I so hesitant to acknowledge the similar need in my own life? Is it some form of pride, a desperate inner longing to live independent? A mentality that believes I can do this on my own? Is it some perverse fear that somehow thinks that admitting need is a sign of weakness, a realization that I am not complete in and of myself? Why am I so slow to come to God and receive from Him, to allow Him to replace my “nothing” with “as much as he needs“? God is ready. God is longing. It’s time to start to asking.