I’m a pastor’s kid.
I married a pastor’s kid.
We have 5 pastor’s kids.
Sundays have always been the Lord’s Day in my house. Like my wife and myself, my kids have all been in church since infancy, but this doesn’t stop them from coming up to me every Sunday, almost without exception, to ask me when and where we’re going to eat. They always ask me when I’m in the middle of a conversation too, so I try to avoid them initially.
They persist, which used to make me upset, but now it’s just funny. I’ll usually respond by saying something like, “Can you think of the last time when your mom and I didn’t feed you? We’re hungry too, and I promise it will be right after we leave the church.” Even though I can count on one hand the meals my kids have missed, that doesn’t stop them from constantly worrying where their next meal is coming from.
I can’t help but think that God thinks the same about me when I ask Him for something I need or want. I, probably not much unlike yourself, am far too easily worried about God not providing for my everyday needs. Truthfully, God wants to give us something far better than what we think we need.
One problem in receiving the things that we ask from God is that it seldom happens when we want it to. God’s timing is very unlike our own.
“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8
We want things now, and God wants us to wait. Not only is God’s timetable different than our own, He wants us to wait for something completely different that what we asked for in the first place.
There’s this passage in the book of Acts that records the last conversation Jesus’ followers have with Him before He ascended into heaven. Mind you, Jesus had been crucified, buried, and had been resurrected just 40 days prior to this, and all for the sake of establishing God’s Kingdom on the earth.
His followers at this time were all Jewish and Israel was under Rome’s oppressive rule. When they heard Jesus talking about restoring the kingdom, they thought He was referring to Israel’s national security. They had the right idea but had a completely different vision of what that was going to look like. They wanted a temporary fix to an eternal endeavor.
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6
It’s easy to be critical of the ones who asked Jesus about when he would restore the kingdom to Israel. The Holy Spirit would lead them into the truth of how God’s Kingdom would be established, but He had not yet come. Jesus had only given them an understanding of what the Scriptures said about Himself at that point. Jesus did plan on restoring the kingdom like they asked, but it would not be in their life time.
Very soon, the Holy Spirit would move them from doubt, to knowledge, to certainty. Watch these same people change from worriers to warriors in Acts 2. They received the Holy Spirit in fullness when they were waiting and praying in the upper room.
We want God to restore our own kingdoms, our own certainty, our own losses, but these are just a part, and not the heart, of what God chooses to restore. The kingdom he will restore to His people is the Kingdom of God in Christ.
In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard explains the phrase “the kingdom of God” as being the reach of God’s rule. God has saved me from my sin and the penalty of it as well, not just because He wants to forgive and settle old debts, but because He wants to give me His Kingdom. His desire is to give the Kingdom to His children, but receiving it means submitting to His rule and reign in your heart and life.
Have you wondered why God hasn’t given you that thing that you’ve been asking Him for yet? Have you been like myself, and the disciples mentioned in Acts 1, who asked when Jesus planned on making things right by them? Maybe He wants to give you His KINGDOM as opposed to restoring your own.
Jesus forbids anxiousness and worry by giving a couple examples from the natural world in Matthew 6:25-34; food and clothing — barns and yarn. He said that ravens do not store food in barns and God feeds them sufficiently. He goes on saying that wild flowers are clothed by God with more splendor than King Solomon in all of his glory.
I’m certain that what He’s offering us is far better than the kingdom we’ve been asking him to restore. He wants to transform you from worrier to warrior, and He’ll do so if you seek Him sincerely and make HIS Kingdom your primary concern.