Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ye Ask Not

Lately I have been aware of how much havoc we reap upon ourselves for lack of patience. We have a desire and then quickly conceive our own means and methods to fulfill that desire. These quick fixes are, frankly, destructive.

For instance, yesterday's New York Times carried an article about children who were conceived from sperm bank donations. The article highlighted the childrens' desires to know their fathers, to find family, connections and roots. It even made reference to different families. that had used the same sperm donor. who vacationed together in search of familial bond. Obviously the desire for children is a God-blessed desire, but we so quickly forget that God's ways and timing are not our own.

The pain faced by the offspring of sperm donor banks is in marked comparison to some other stories of parents who awaited the arrival of children. The Scriptures record that Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth all waited, often in the agony of suffering, to see their desire for children fulfilled. I find it no small coincidence that the children borne of their waiting were tremendously blessed by God. The patriarch, Isaac; the prophet, Samuel and John the Baptist were the fruit of years of waiting.

It doesn't even take historical examples to see the power of patient waiting. Friends, Reg and Annie Varghese, went through seven years of pain and anguish in waiting the birth of a child. The recent miracle of their son Timothy's conception and birth was a very powerful testament to the power of a living God. Many who had prayed with this couple and perceived their faithful obedience were touched by the fruit of their patient faith.

The births of Isaac, Samuel, John the Baptist and Timothy point us to the Kingdom of God. They point us to a kingdom that isn't established by the work of our own best contriving, but through the power and might of a God and the perseverance of the saints in obedience. And while we celebrate the miracle of all life, the children of Donor 150 experience not the fruit of patient obedience, but the confusion and loneliness that is the sure result of our feeble attempts to play God.

The Scriptures express these thoughts more eloquently:

After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Ye lust and have not: Ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and later rain. Behold we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job and have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. (Selections from James 1 and 4)

Yea in the way of thy judgments we have waited for thee; The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. (Isaiah 26:8)

When situations arise in which we become aware of our distinct desire, two simple queries often allow us to discern whether we desire mammon before God:

1. Am I following the path of obedience, as entrusted to me in the Scriptures, and willing to wait in patience for the fulfillment of desire?

2. Am I contriving, manipulating and scheming as best as I know how, so that my desire is fulfilled in the shortest possible length of time?

But lest we believe that our desires will be fulfilled, as we have them planned, so long as we just wait long enough, may we not forget that in the letter to the Hebrews we are told that many saints died without recognizing the fulfillment of desire. "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth." (Hebrews 11:13)