DORA, Ala. (BP)–Do you remember the game show, “Let’s Make a Deal”? The host, Monty Hall, would stroll through the audience asking for all sorts of crazy items. “I’ll pay $200 for a rubber band,” he might say. A rubber band-waving audience member would leap to his feet and Hall would quickly pay out the cash, with the entire audience counting out the bills in unison.
Then came decision time. “Would you like to keep that $200,” he would ask the rubber band trader, “or swap it for what’s behind the curtain?”
While there were various facets of the game show, no one ever was confused. They all knew that even though they had choices to make, Monty Hall was the man in control of Let’s Make a Deal.
Understanding the game show’s rules was easy. Understanding God’s rules are just as easy. He doesn’t cloak them in mystery. He doesn’t hide His expectations from us. Instead, He clearly delineates them through His Word, the Bible. Yet for some strange reason, we continually try to make a deal with God, and we put ourselves in the hosting position!
Let me use the prayer of Jabez as an example. After Bruce Wilkerson’s book on “The Prayer of Jabez” became enormously popular, more and more Christians began quoting and claiming the promise of 1 Chronicles 4:10: “Oh, that you would bless me….” (KJV).
The problem is, some of those people never read Wilkerson’s book, let alone THE Book, nor did they understand the principle behind the prayer. They just wanted more stuff -– and then better stuff.
But this ill-conceived notion is a far cry from the truth to be gleaned from this passage –- and from Wilkerson’s beautifully crafted and on-target little volume. The prayer of Jabez asks God for greater opportunities to bring Him glory. It’s not about receiving, except for the purpose of having more to give back in return.
I recently talked with a man, whom I’ll call Stanley, who said he knew God had put it on his heart to become involved in a motorcycle ministry. Among many other positive actions, these bikers spend time teaching, preaching and witnessing to men incarcerated in a high-security prison.
Nothing wrong with that. But here’s the deal with Stanley: He doesn’t own a bike, can’t afford a bike and yet really, really wants a bike. And not just any bike. He wants the biggest, baddest, most expensive bike in all of bikedom.
At the same time, he’s been invited to participate in a myriad of mission projects and ministries within and outside his home church, but he flatly refuses. “God knows the desire of my heart,” he repeats over and over, “and I’m asking and trusting for Him to provide it.”
May I address a deeply spiritual observation to ol’ Stanley? Buddy, don’t hold your breath! Stanley is yet another Christian who is trying to play “Let’s Make a Deal” with the Father –- and He will not play.
No, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a part of a motorcycle ministry. No, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to own a motorcycle -– that is, unless that desire is greater than your desire to honor the Lord and provide for your family. What is wrong is trying to offer your service to God in exchange for the desire of your heart –- when the desire of your heart should be to serve Him.
In essence, Stanley is standing before a holy God and declaring: “Either you let me do what I want to do, or I won’t do anything at all.” And is that any way for a human to address His Creator?
Years ago, my husband Larry coached youth football. The most talented youngster on his team was Calvin, and he was more than well aware of his abilities. After the first few games, he came to Larry and told him, “I want to be quarterback.”
“Calvin, we need you where I have you,” Larry told him. And he went on to explain to Calvin why his speed and agility were better used in his current position.
If he couldn’t be the quarterback, Calvin retorted, he wouldn’t play.
“Then I guess you don’t play,” Larry answered. “Calvin, you’re a great athlete, but I’m your coach. I can’t let you tell me my job. And I can’t let you play if you won’t take the position I’ve assigned you.”
After that, Calvin sat the bench, watching our team be pounded by four consecutive opponents. After that, he apologized and asked to go back to his former position. The team won every remaining game of the season.
Don’t quit serving God because you aren’t in the spot where you think you should serve Him. You may not be the head honcho in whatever you’re doing. But bear in mind: People rarely start work as the CEOs of their companies. Likewise, you’re going to have to wet your feet in the sea of service before God will promote you to swimming. And you may first spend a stretch in the shallows. But the point is to stay in the water.
Jesus Christ has a specific plan for your life. Be faithful in whatever task, mission or ministry He’s placed before you. And if a passion about a particular one keeps burning in your heart, stay faithful to what you are doing and wait on His nudging –- you’ll know when it’s time to step into a new door of service.
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time….” (1 Peter 5:6, HCSB).
Judy Woodward Bates is the author of “The Gospel Truth about Money Management.” Visit her website at www.bargainomics.com.