They scraped and saved and did without. They wrangled deals until the day came when they could afford it. With tears of joy, they presented their beloved daughter with the gift of a lifetime.
Her face said it all as she squealed with delight. "Oh, finally! Cool! I can't wait to tell my friends!" She whirled away from her parents and raced into the house.
Mom looked at Dad. "I guess she liked it. She seemed happy."
Dad's smile wavered and his eyes followed his daughter's quick exit. "Yeah, she seemed to...Surely she'll know now how much we love her. You think...you think she does?"
Mom swallowed hard and followed his gaze. "Surely."
Through the open window came the sound of an excited voice. "It's awesome, Jill! Not the color I would have chosen, but still...I'm gonna look so cool! Everyone will be so jealous. It's about time I got it. I don't know why it took so long. You wanna go out tonight and show off with me? This'll make ol' Shelly eat her words about me. I'm gonna..."
Do you see something wrong with that scene?
If you've ever been on the parents' end of it, you see the problem right away. An ungrateful spirit and an entitlement attitude on the part of the daughter.
But have you ever been the daughter?
As I read the story in Exodus about Moses whacking the rock to bring forth water for the thirsty Israelites in the desert, I wondered: Why did God always change methods every time he did a miracle or gave a great gift? He rarely did things the same way twice. One time he had Moses whacking the rock, the next time speaking to it.
When Jesus healed someone in the New Testament, you just never knew how He was going to do it. One time he touched them, one time He merely spoke. One time He made mud out of spit and smearing it on a blind man's eyes. But why? Why alter the methods so drastically?
Because God is the parent of a bunch of ungrateful, self-centered children
with entitlement attitudes.
with entitlement attitudes.
We beg Him to bless us, give us what we want, and we often do it with an attitude of expectation. We call it faith, but it's not. It's entitlement. As though the mere presence of a desire obligates God to give us what we want.
I believe He keeps us guessing because He wants us to want Him, not just His gifts. As soon as we think we know how God is going to work, we become complacent. We presume on God. He becomes merely the source of blessing rather than the object of our desire.
Because He kept the Israelites guessing, they never knew what was going to happen and they had to keep trusting, keep seeking, keep asking and keep their focus on Him rather than his gifts.
As long as Jesus kept switching methods, the people saw that there was nothing magic in the act itself. No hidden cameras. No sleight of hand. They could never duplicate his miracles, because the power was in Him, not his methods.
So what about you?
- Have you developed a tendency to seek God because of what He can do for you, rather than for the joy of His presence?
- Is your prayer life more like a letter to Santa?
- Has God's past provision made you complacent, rather than grateful?
- Do you assume that because He blessed you once, He is obligated to repeat it?
Is your relationship with God similar to that of the ungrateful teenager toward her parents?
All the girl had to do was run back outside and throw herself into her parents' arms, thanking them and promising to use this gift in a way that would make them proud.
Do you need to do the same thing?