By Lisa Huddleston
Sunday was a special day. For the first time in quite a long while, we had all three of our grown children and each of their significant others together at one time in our home! It was simply grand, and I’ve been savoring moments from that day as this week progresses, smiling over quirks and differences, and delighting in each one of their unique personalities. What a blessing it is to have these kids in my life!
This morning as I tried to catch up on my “daily” Bible reading schedule, I was reminded of my kids and the fact that I am God’s kid and how much we all love to give good things to our children—but sometimes we would like to have them ask for what they need.
My kids run the gamut when it comes to the “willing to ask” spectrum. One wouldn’t ask for help unless a life depends upon it. One will ask but with great regret and hand wringing. And one is happy to ask and persist in asking—it never hurts, right?
I think perhaps I fall somewhere within the first and second of these traits. Sometimes I am too proud to ask others for help. I can do whatever I need to on my own. At other times, when I really feel broken, I will ask, but with much apologizing and great shame. Rarely do I ask with comfort and joy (or confidence and faith). More’s the pity, I think.
As I read in the Gospel of Mark this morning, the Spirit asked me to consider the importance of asking.
First I noticed that the father of a son who had seizures asked the disciples to heal his boy, but they could not so they brought the child to Jesus. And the father asked again. Not with great faith but with very little. “If you can do anything ….” Jesus replied, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” To which the hopeful father answered, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (9:22-24).
I get that. Many times I don’t want to ask because my doubt gets in the way. I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed, that maybe God can’t or won’t provide what I need. Often, my best and only prayer is, “Help my unbelief.” Ask!
Next I read that the disciples did not understand what Jesus told them about his impending death and resurrection, but they “were afraid to ask him about it” (9:32). Wonder what scared them? Did they think Jesus would laugh at them or chastise them or punish them? Were they afraid of what the other disciples would think? Oh, how a fuller understanding of Jesus’ words would have comforted them when the time came for them to be fulfilled.
I understand this reason, too. Who wants to look stupid especially when others seem to be much more assured and confident in their faith? It’s hard to admit to ignorance, but it’s so much better than remaining in it. Truth beats back our fear and provides what we need to persevere through hard times that are sure to come. Ask!
Next I noticed the rich man who asked Jesus the most important question. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (10:17). How did Jesus respond to the man? He “looked at him and loved him.” Jesus saw into the man’s soul, he knew the sin that was hidden there, but he LOVED him!
Sometimes I hesitate to ask because of my sin. I know how unworthy I am, and I know that my Heavenly Father knows how unworthy I am. I can’t wear a mask with God. But I’m grateful to be reminded that my Father loves me, and a loving Father wants his children to ask. Ask!
Finally good ol’ James and John, the sons of Zebedee, asked for power, to sit on either side of Jesus’ throne. I think Jesus realized their naivete, patted them on their heads, and knew that soon they would see their mistake. But he didn’t tell them not to ask.
Have a stupid question? (And, yes, there are stupid questions!) Ask Jesus anyway—he may smile and pat you on the head, but he’ll never tell you to stop asking. Ask!
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (11:22-26).
I don’t have the space to do justice to these words, but, no, if I ask for a red Ferarri Jesus doesn’t mean I’ll get it. Jesus spoke with metaphors that his audience clearly recognized and understood. Even Jesus asked to let the cup of his suffering pass him by, and he didn’t get that. But he also taught his disciples to pray, “God’s will be done.” Ask!
If we come to our Father trusting in the right way and in the right things, we can ask our Good Father anything and know that he will hear our prayer. Ask for more faith, less fear, more understanding, less pride … more of him and less of me. He will answer and give us what we need.
There is very little I would withhold from my sweet children—anything I have is theirs! “How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?” (Matt. 7:11).