About a month ago, my son Joshua and I were grocery shopping inside of our local Wal-Mart. Josh is about to turn 5, and he’s hit a difficult patch in terms of how pleasant he is to take along to the grocery store. Gone is my sweet boy who was just happy to look at things in the store! This kid will not stop asking for stuff most days and throws tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants. Lucky for him though, on this particular day, I’m in a “yes” mood and was attempting to lavish some blessings on my little boy.
Throughout the grocery store, I continuously ask him what types of things he wants and add a few extra requests from him to our list (toys excluded). Aside from the little cringe inside at the grocery bill on the way out, it ends as a good trip (not even crowded!). We start to walk out to the parking lot and I notice Josh’s face is completely downtrodden. This boy is near tears! I start questioning him about what is wrong, and trying to figure out if he’s just exhausted and hungry from school ending, or maybe having a grocery trip at the time he’d normally be eating lunch.
“Josh, aren’t you excited to eat the Lunchable you picked out? What about your Minion yogurt, remember? We also got you some skittles! Aren’t you excited to get home and eat lunch?” He starts crying and borderline shouts, “But you didn’t get me a Snippynack!” A what? After wading through the tears and trying to figure out what he was trying to say, I figured out he was saying “Zippy Sack”. A zippy sack? What the heck is that? He never even asked for such a thing inside the store, and I didn’t know what the darn thing was even if I had wanted to buy it for him. I replied to my distraught little one, “But, Josh I just bought you a ton of things you like that you actually need, and a lot of things you want, why are you upset over this?” We just kept arguing and going back and forth about it, but like most 4-year old emotional outbursts, this one wasn’t fixed by logic. I finally put my foot down and said I’d had enough of his fit, buckled him in, and we drove home.
The entire drive home he stayed upset, and kept on about it until lunch was over. Finally, when I put him down for his nap, I told him I’d think about getting it for him for his birthday (if I could figure out what the heck it was!). He eased off to sleep, and I set off to Googling. Turns out Zippy Sacks are sort of like sleeping bags and he obviously saw a commercial for them on TV.
It didn’t take long for God to speak to me through this bad afternoon my son was having. Isn’t that how we treat God’s blessings? We get so focused on what He hasn’t given us that we completely lose sight of the endless blessings he’s already graciously given us. I could hear myself in that same whiney voice saying, “but God, you haven’t given me a bigger house! But God, you didn’t give me the finances I want! But God, I don’t want my kid’s going to school in that district! But God, you completely ignored what I really wanted!” It took a great deal of concentrated effort to get my son to realize that I’d already given Him a cart full of things he wanted (and needed) just moments before.
The other issue was that Josh never even mentioned he wanted this Zippy Sack thing. How often do we doubt God’s goodness by not even asking Him for what we want? Yes, God already knows what we want, but the power of prayer lies in expressing faith through the action of bringing our requests to God, and trusting that He is faithful and true.
Matthew 7:11 says, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” He wants good things for you, and is always on your side. He’s made countless promises to us in His word, and He will always make good on those promises, regardless of our doubting hearts. Isaiah 55:11 says, “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” This verse is basically saying that if God says something, it happens. Period. There’s no changing a good plan put in place by God.
Sometimes, it’s hard to believe this though. “Why would God listen to my prayers? What value do I have? I think I’ll ask someone else to pray instead.” It’s easier to ask other people to pray for our needs and wants because it’s easier to accept that He will listen to the prayers of other people more than our prayers. We listen to these little lies of comparison that say, “She’s more blessed than you are just look at her! God obviously favors her, that’s who you need to be praying for you. Her marriage is clearly in better shape, God must listen to her more. And just think of her ministry! God’s doing big things for her, she must be more holy. Yep, that’s who needs to be praying for you, so you don’t need to pray, it wouldn’t be heard anyway.” That is a lie straight from the pit! God wants to hear your prayers, and He wants to give extravagantly to His children. His grace is unending and NEVER fails. Not now, not tomorrow, and not the next day, or ever.
…and in case you’re wondering. Josh turns 5 years old tomorrow. His Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Zippy Sack came in yesterday, and he was beyond thrilled when I gave it to him early.