I’ve faced many instances in my life where I’ve failed and I’ve come to recognize one of four situations:
- Sometimes my desire lacked commitment.
- Sometimes my effort lacked discipline.
- Sometimes my skill set was inadequate.
- Sometimes God just said, “Take a number”
“But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”1
It’s that second one that speaks to me about my attitude and failure; Love my neighbor as I love myself. What I realize is that I love me and I will go to great lengths to prove my love for me. That may mean treating myself to some chocolate cake, buying shoes or clothes, the car I want, or traveling to a place I’ve wanted to go. I do these things because I love me.
So I may fail as a result of those first three situations, but it’s OK because I still love me. I may be disappointed and even frustrated, but I’m not angry at me because, I love me. But situation number four has always resulted in me being angry at God for denying me and I see now that I failed in the first commandment to love God to the same degree that I love myself. I don’t question my love for me, and I don’t question God’s love for me; I know both are true. However, I have to question my love for God because when I’ve failed because He says, “Take a number”, I don’t love Him the way I love myself; I’m being selfish towards God.
I don’t know why God sometimes says “Take a number”, but He’s God and that’s His prerogative as The Sovereign Lord; His ways and thoughts are not mine. I no longer want to be selfish towards God (or anyone else for that matter). At a minimum, I want to love God as I love myself. I also realize that when God says, “Take a number”, it doesn’t mean never.
I believe this because of something I read in scripture:
“Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice. But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And He was saying to her, ‘Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.’ But she answered and said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children's crumbs.’ And He said to her, ‘Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.’ And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left."2
This scripture reminds me that just before the sun rises; it may seem to be the darkest time of my life. In Mark, the bible speaks of a woman who came to Jesus asking Him to heal her daughter who was possessed by an unclean spirit. Because the woman was a Syrophoenician (a Gentile), Jesus essentially told her to take a number. Now if you’ve ever had to wait in line for someone to call your number, imagine what it would feel like if the ticket you were holding had no number.
Would you wait as long as it took for an answer, or would you just become frustrated and give up?
Giving up isn’t just my not trusting God, it’s my not loving God as well.
But this woman demonstrates that she not only believes in Jesus, she loves Him to the degree that she’ll accept whatever attention He gives her because:
- She doesn’t need an answer packaged in a beautiful wrapping paper and ribbon.
- She doesn't demand to be given a seat at the dinner table.
- She doesn't demand a plate to go.
- She’s perfectly willing to accept the crumbs that fall from the table for the dogs to eat.
I didn’t want just a slice of cake, I wanted the whole cake!
What I see in this woman’s example is that the size of the blessing is irrelevant, because even a crumb from Jesus was enough to heal her daughter. She didn’t need Jesus to give a sixty minute sermon on how he would heal her daughter. She didn’t need to live in the lap of luxury to experience the healing of her daughter.
She understood that even the tiniest granule of blessing from Jesus was sufficient enough to accomplish all she needed.
She was at her edge of darkness, yet she knew dawn was coming.
She knew this because she was unwilling to give up loving Jesus, in exchange for living a life of disappointment and frustration. I heard a preacher once say that when you get a slice of cake, it contains the same ingredients as the whole cake. That cake has eggs, flour, sugar, flavor and everything put in the batter; so does a slice of that same cake.
My ticket has all that too!
Although it may seem like God is only saying, “Take a number”, perhaps I’ve been rejecting my ticket that reserves a slice of cake for me. As a result, I was demonstrating my lack of love for God by refusing to accept my ticket; believing instead that I would never get a slice. I believed that ticket held no value for me.
But that’s not the case anymore!
I’ll love God in my darkest hour just as much as I love myself. I’m making choices to please Him, not that I may curry His favor, but because I want to love Him. I’m not giving up on God.
What I’ve come to realize is that God hasn’t given up on me. Whether it’s a slice of cake or just a crumb, I believe God will provide it. Even if He says, “Take a number”, that’s good enough for me because that ticket has all the ingredients I need for an answer to my prayer.
|Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).|
- The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
- The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA