By Harold Sala
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24
One of my favorite snapshots is that of my son kneeling down with both hands outstretched towards his eleven-month-old son who is just learning to walk. Their eyes are locked. Steve, my son, has a big smile on his face. What the photo doesn’t capture is his warm, inviting voice, as he says, “Come on, Christian, come on….”
It’s a picture of trust and commitment as a little boy took those first tentative steps towards his daddy, whose hands quickly caught him as he lost his balance and started to fall.
Only someone with a very perverted mind would kneel before his little son, encouraging him to come, then allow him to fall when he could easily catch him and prevent his falling. Trust is the result of a loving relationship. A little fellow learning to walk is completely innocent. He trusts implicitly.
Some individuals, however, face situations which perplex them. They pray and ask God to do something, claiming promises from God’s Word. Then when things don’t come together as they expect, they think that God held out His hands toward them, asking them to walk towards Him, but when they stumbled, He wasn’t there to catch them, and they fell.
Then they hesitate, uncertain, not knowing whether or not God can be trusted. There are as many variations of this as there are disappointed men and women. Question: Do we have unrealistic expectations of what God will do? Or is it that we have been misled by pop theology, by those who teach that you can ask God to do anything and He will do it? They often site verses such as John 14:14, which says, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
One of our problems, which results in frustration and hesitation, is that we are reading other people’s mail. Let me explain. Let’s suppose that inadvertently the mailman put a letter addressed to your neighbor in your post office box. Not paying attention to the address on the envelope, you open the letter and read an invitation to a dinner party next Friday night at the home of a famous celebrity. “Great!” you think. Pretty exciting. On the given evening you go to the home where the dinner party is to be held, but your name isn’t on the guest list. You are rejected.
Here’s the application. One of the first principles of Bible study is asking, “To whom was this promise given?” Then ask, “If the promise is made to a specific group or individual, is there a principle which does apply to me?” There are some promises in Scripture which are given specifically to individuals. It has their name on them exclusively. God made promises to Abraham, David, and many to His people Israel. Likewise, Jesus made some promises to specific individuals, yet there is an application which you can make to your own life.
A final thought. Your spiritual mailbox is full of unopened mail, with the sender’s address spelled h-e-a-v-e-n. The Bible is full of promises which have your name on them. Many of the marvelous promises found in the Old Testament, including the encouraging words of the Psalms, are universal principles which you can apply to your life, realizing that God will honor those promises. Most of what Jesus taught is for His followers of all ages and has your name on the address.
God is faithful and He honors the heart that is fully committed to Him. What the writer of Scripture penned three millenia ago is still true: “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). Some things never change.
Resource reading: 2 Chronicles 16:1-10