My kids are getting wise to me.
It used to be that one kid or another would come to me with some ridiculous request – that we needed a family iguana, that we should move into a tiny house, that we needed to buy a limousine – you name it. I would listen to their request, then I would show them all the logical reasons why we couldn’t make it happen. Then they would either accept the explanation, or go off and throw a fit. Either way, the case was closed.
But like I said, the kids are getting wise.
I’ve recently observed a new tactic they’re engaged in. Instead of coming one at a time, they’ve begun to come collectively as a unit. And instead of just making the request, they come with a fully built out proposal of all the reasons why it would make perfect sense for me to do what they think they need. And it actually works. When they’ve thought it through, can make their argument, and do so together, then I find myself giving in.
It works for them, and it works for most of us, too. Whenever someone has something we think we need – whether it’s a promotion at work, an agreement with a decision we want to make in our marriages, or even something like a restaurant choice between friends, we do well to think through what we are asking so that we can provide a convincing argument for why we are right.
But that philosophy is built on the assumption that the person who has what we need or want is not willing to give is to us unless we can convince them to do so. Their default answer is “no” unless we can convince them otherwise. That’s why we have to make the argument so convincing and air tight; that’s why we have to come with a fully built out plan. And that’s also why it’s so angering when that person refuses to give us what we think they should be compelled to give us.
How glorious, then, to see that the gospel obliterates this perspective when it comes to God.
How freeing to consider that God doesn’t have to be convinced to give us what we need.
We know that through the gospel, we are God’s beloved children. And we know that as a good Father, He does not provide for us reluctantly, but instead delights each day in giving us our daily bread, and doing more than we can even conceive. God does not need convincing. He already knows what we need, and He is going to give us just that.
Of course, that does not mean that God is some kind of cosmic genie, granting the selfish wishes of anyone who rubs the lamp in just the right way. It’s better than that.
God will not stoop so low as to be our butler; He insists upon being our Father. And as our Father, He will give us the fish we need even when we are convinced that we actually need snakes.
Because of the gospel, we can put away our arguments. We can tear up our carefully designed plans. We can think again about working up our gumption to convince God to assume a posture of generosity. And instead, we can freely come again and again to a Father who delights in being the best kind of giver.