Monday, February 20, 2012

Joy to the Full

Ask and you will receive that your joy may be full.
John 16:24 NKJV

A conundrum is sometimes defined as a riddle inside an enigma wrapped in a mystery. It's also a fair description of more than one scripture that has challenged me through the years. Like today's verse on asking and receiving. I read it and immediately get lost in a tangled web of sentences that all start with but or what-if.

Yet, when the journey of reason becomes so convoluted I think I may never find my way back, I take a tip from an atheist who's writing I have always admired. Mark Twain said, "It ain't the parts of the Bible I don't understand that bother me. It's the parts I do!" If I'll back off and focus on what I know instead of getting lost down rabbit holes, life-and scripture-make a lot more sense.

From this verse, what I know is when I ask Jesus for something and receive it, the cycle is a whole lot of fun!

I was going through a particularly wearisome time of spiritual dryness. I had just finished one book and was casting about trying to envision the next, but nothing was working and I drifted into such a slough of despond that I wasn't sure I cared if I ever wrote again. Too much hard work. Too little reward. God had many excellent writers in His fold. He didn't need me.

That was when I picked a prayer journal from the shelf and began thumbing through. I was amazed at how many victories had slipped by without my notice. Troubles had been solved. Growth had taken place. Moods had changed. And, all of it had progressed almost stealth through my days. Where had I been when that prayer was answered? Why didn't I notice the cloudy mood I prayed about was lifted in less than seventy-two hours?

I pulled down another journal. Forgotten memories surfaced like neglected friends. With such a body of evidence demonstrating that my efforts and choices made a difference in life, what gave me the right to think new dreams, new prayers and new horizons weren't worth pursuing? The experience was like coming up from under water and taking a deep breath of fresh air. Just like Moses had assured the Israelites, remembering yesterday created courage for tomorrow. [1]

There are still many things I don't understand about this verse. I haven't got a clue how Jesus could give such a powerful blank check to humans who have a penchant for making unreasonable, selfish requests. I don't understand why sometimes when Christians make perfectly logical, needed request; they don't seem to receive from God. But I know I am a weaker, sadder person when I fail to grab hold and bask in the sunshine of each answered prayer no matter how small or large.

[1] Deuteronomy 7:18

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