Everyone appreciates an original. Collectors will pay top dollar for one. Recently the art world was up in arms over the stolen original works of Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and others. My oldest son appreciates original ideas. His especially. When he was little, he wanted to be an inventor.
Through the years he has drawn pictures of his creations, and a few of them have been quite good. He is always devastated if he learns that an idea he has is not actually an original. He hates to hear me say, “Sorry. Someone already came up with that one.” Yet I encourage him to keep trying. Who knows what he might actually come up with one day? He also likes coining phrases from time to time.
He shared one once that made me laugh. I laughed not because what he said was funny, but because I knew he thought it was really good, and it was not an original. He had even taught it to one of his friends. His phrase was this, “If you don’t ask, then the answer is always ‘No’.”
After a moment, I broke the bad news to him.
“Sorry honey, that’s not an original.”
“Nope. It’s actually in the Bible. James 4:2. In the old King James it’s ‘You have not because you ask not’.”
He was really bummed.
“It’s still a good quote”, I told him.
My son’s quote was a little different from the Bible version in that mostly he meant if you never ask your parents if you can do or have a thing, then it’s just as if you asked and they said no, but if you actually do ask there is at least the potential they might say yes. James’ point is a bit different. James is saying we don’t have what we want because we haven’t asked God for it. Instead, we have schemed ways to get it on our own.
I know lots of people who do that. Well, I know I do that. I decide that I just must have this or that, and then I go about figuring out how to have it. It’s a lot of work and stress really when all along I should just ask God for what I want. The Bible even teaches that God loves to give good gifts to his children.
I guess part of the problem is so many times what I want is probably not what God would want me to have.
So rather than addressing that issue, I ignore it, and go about getting what I want on my own. When if I would just follow James’ advice it would point me back into relationship with the Father, which is above all the very thing I should want. Perhaps if I spent more time working on that relationship, and less time figuring out how to get what I want, I would find that those things matter less and less to me.
Our pastor once said how God has a plan for our lives, and how He weaves even the unpleasant and painful things into the fabric of our lives for good. How in just the last moment God has been known time and time again to swoop in a provide for our needs. But He won’t do that if we are always manipulating our circumstances to get what we want. Nope. God can be quite polite. He’ll just let us go ahead and try it on our own.
We might even obtain what it is we want without His help. But how much greater would it be to allow God to work in our circumstances to bring about a wonderful outcome on our behalf? Then we can turn around and give Him the glory for it, and save the strain on our arms as we reach around to pat ourselves on the back.
That’s not an original idea either, but it’s a pretty good one.