The following recounts events that occurred well over twenty years ago, before God gave me this Internet ministry. It is an extract from my free webbook (also available in audio) Waiting for Your Ministry.
I was driving home from church, dejected. Prayer had been offered for people who felt any special call upon their lives. Though I longed to respond, God has never spoken to me about future service.
‘The Lord gives almost everyone a personal word to cling to while waiting,’ I mused. Abraham may have languished for years, but God had promised him descendants. Young Joseph had a dream. David was anointed with oil. And the names kept coming.
‘Lord,’ I complained, ‘you’ve never given me a promise!’
‘Except the million in God’s Word,’ came the thought.
I went to bed, still agitated. As I lay there next morning my mind floated to Ruth, who found God’s blessing by stubbornly resisting the pleas of the most godly woman she knew. (Ruth 1:4-17) My thoughts flashed through the centuries to the Canaanite who won her daughter’s healing and Jesus’ praise by persisting, despite being ignored, called a dog, and told her request was improper. (Matthew 15:22-28)
My heart leapt. Maybe God is doing the same to me! Surely, despite heaven’s silence, God’s heart is still open to my cry. I recalled something I placed in an early draft of this book:
Most biblical teaching on prayer can be summarized thus: God delights in lavishing his blessings upon those too resolute to take ‘No’ for an answer.
It’s true, and I hate it. Not only does it sound like a grueling endurance test, I loathe arguments. I cringe at the thought of pestering the One I love, or grieving him by not instantly yielding to the slightest indication of his wish. Further, I’m awed by the realization that God’s wisdom is infinite. That makes mine infinitesimal. Who am I to haggle with the greatest Mind in the universe?
Jacob was blessed because he wrestled with God – and won. (Genesis 32:24-30) I thought we scored by letting God win! This side of prayer seems to tear up everything Scripture teaches about love, submission and respect.
After years of confusion a gleam penetrated in the guise of a startling thought: ‘God is a tease’. I slammed shut my mind. It couldn’t be. God’s not like that! Yet as I dared peek at that mysterious ray, light flooded my understanding. It’s true! God is a beautiful, loving tease! He declares he is the giving God (James 1:5, literal translation) and then lets everything suggest he is a tightwad. ‘You can’t have it! It’s not worth having. You’re not good enough!’ heaven and hell seem to howl. All the while he is hoping we will see through the jest to the heart of God.
Play-fights with God make us strong. They are not to be taken lightly, however. Eternity holds its breath. Ruth’s sister-in-law surrendered to Naomi’s repeated pleas and returned to her people, turning her back on God’s blessing.
Elisha wanted a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. The hide of the man! Time and again God’s oracle tried to shrug off that bald-headed upstart, yet Elisha clung to him with the obstinacy of a blood-sucker. (2 Kings 2:1-15) That’s what made him grate – er – great.
Heaven’s strong room is plundered by everyone with the audacity to ask and the tenacity to receive. And God is tickled pink! Look above the stern ‘No’ on God’s lips to the sparkle in his eyes.