“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you . For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:9-13 NKJV
My youngest daughter is adopted from Bulgaria. She spent those first key years of development languishing in an orphanage that did anything but actually meet her needs physically or emotionally. As a result she came to us at almost three years of age with so many emotional and physical needs and developmental delays. But you see, I had a plan. A plan to fix this . . . to fix her . . . sounds kind of gross when I write it down. I taught school for 10 years. I worked with many kids with emotional, physical, and developmental disabilities, and I knew what to do. So I dove right in. We started with in home therapies. Only, those were a complete bust. After six weeks of disastrous sessions, frustrated therapists, and no progress, we realized that therapy was too much too soon. So we backed off. We worked on bonding and attachment, but I still had a plan. After about eight months home, I re-initiated the therapy course. Only this time it was to be out patient therapy. I took her to the therapy center for evaluation, and not surprisingly, she more than qualified. Clearly my plan was the right one. I had absolutely no intentions of ever seeking public school therapies. Surely, God agreed with me . . .
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. I never once sought God on whether this course was the best course because I just knew I was right. Long story short, door after door was shut, no slammed, in our faces. Insurance wouldn’t cover therapy, and to my dismay, the way our policy is written, they didn’t have to. I did pray . . . I prayed God would get them whomever they were (very Christlike of me) . . . He didn’t. Instead, I looked up one day, and the only open door was the one route I had zero intention of following. The public school route. So then I prayed, finally, not for God to do what I wanted, but for God to show up, to give us wisdom and guidance, to open the doors that needed to be opened and shut the doors that needed to be shut. And I admitted the one thing that I struggle to admit more than anything, I don’t always know best.
This story is my story, but it’s not just my story. It’s everybody’s story at one point or another. Maybe it’s not a child with special needs where you find yourself lost for a way to go forward. Maybe it’s a relationship or a job or a health decision or a million other things. The particulars of the story may be unique to me, but the issue isn’t. How often do we think we know best when we don’t? How often do we look up and think, “How did I end up here?!”
Go back and re-read Luke 11:9-13. The scriptures tell us to “ask, and it will be given”, “seek, and you will find”, “knock, and the door will be opened”. But what is “it”? What are we finding? What are we seeking? Which door is being opened? It goes on to say, “if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Back up . . .
The “Holy Spirit”? I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to say “how much more will your heavenly Father give you what you want” . . . right? But that’s not what it says. See we throw around pieces of scripture and scripture out of context to make it fit our agenda, but we often fail to look at what God’s word as a whole, in this case Jesus’s actual words, are saying.
Someone needs something . . . “Ask, and it will be given to you . . . “
Someone is looking for answers . . . “Seek, and you will find . . . “
And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. God does want us to ask. He does want us to seek, but it’s so much bigger than treating Him like a dispensary for the things we want. God isn’t looking to be our proverbial piggy bank (be that money, or things, or choices in life), He’s looking for a relationship with us. So when we ask, when we seek, when we knock, He sends, has already sent, the Holy Spirit to guide us.
“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts [and taken complete possession of them]. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you].” John 16:5-7 AMP
Look at the words used to describe the Holy Spirit . . . Helper, Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Counselor, Strengthener, Standby . . . if you’re a parent, even if you’re not, you know we don’t just give our kids whatever they want without any thought to consequence or purpose. We, instead, work to help them learn to seek what is good for them, to make wise choices, and to know when to say “no” to things that will ultimately bring harm. And that’s what Jesus is saying here. If we know how to do this, with all our imperfections and faults, don’t we think the Father definitely knows even better. That’s why He sent us the Holy Spirit, our Counselor, to guide us, to counsel us. Not to just give us things, but to help see and seek what is best for us.
So if you’re at a loss for a way to go forward, if you need something, or think you need something, but just aren’t sure, ask . . . ask for wisdom, ask for guidance, ask for the right path to be laid before you, ask for the things to be removed that need to be removed and for clarity of heart and mind. And I promise the Holy Spirit will answer. He has yet to let me down, and I don’t see it happening any time soon.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
Final note . . . My daughter did end up in public school, and despite my own mistakes and our false starts, she is thriving. Sure, there are bumps in the road, and challenges to face, but God is so so gracious. Even when we mess up, He’s still right there, waiting for us to ask and seek and knock.
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