Best of Daily Reflections: Keep On Keeping On
Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
My agreement with The High Calling has me writing one 700-word Reflection each day, five days a week, 46 weeks a year. You finish one, take a breath, and start the next. The other day as I sat at my keypad my arms felt like lead, like I was having a stroke. My vision was blurred; I reached for a paper bag to breathe into. I remembered household chores that needed to be done—Right Now. With my tongue I felt a vein of celery in my teeth that demanded to be flossed out—Right Now! Dozens of “to-dos” cascaded through my mind, but the one thing I couldn’t do was write an opening sentence for The High Calling. It was true; I was completely washed up as a writer. Then I remembered Anne Lamott’s secret advice on writing—“write a really horrible first draft.” So I began to scratch out words. Then four hours later there they were, 700 words. Another miracle! I took a breath, and it was time to start all over again.
Jesus knows that the standard requirements of Christian living are paralyzingly difficult. So at this point in his Sermon on the Mount he wisely inserted words about “Asking, seeking, and knocking”—because we need a lot of help. This is Jesus’ version of Anne Lomott’s advice. Jesus wants us to know that the secret of faithful discipleship is to keep moving toward God. Put one foot in front of the other, trust the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, and keep moving.
But what am I talking about? I write these Reflections from my comfortable office, listening to my favorite music, studying from an overflowing library of resources. But then I think of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians kneeling before their ISIS executioners on the Libyan shore. As they walked along, all they could do was trust that in asking they would receive, in seeking they would find, in knocking the door would open for them. All they could do was trust that their heavenly Father could be trusted to give them bread and not a stone, a fish and not a snake. And so, one by one they offered their last words, “Lord Jesus Christ.”
I don’t mean to minimize the everyday heartbreak that comes to all of us, when relationships fray, health decays, hopes dim, and temptations nag and nag until we give in. You don’t have to walk on the Libyan shore to know desperation. So bet your life on these promises from Jesus.
- Ask, Seek and Knock continuously. Jesus uses words that mean never stop asking, seeking and knocking—not ever. Your life becomes one long request. Know that the account God has set aside for you can never be exhausted.
Learn that God is no trickster. He won’t promise bread and give a stone or a fish and give a snake. He may not give what you expect, but he will give what is good.
At the moment, what God gives may be very hard to accept but listen to what the Psalmist says,
“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not on your account?” (Ps. 56:8)
Take courage in knowing that God will take full responsibility even for your tears. You can trust him to make things right.
Whatever you face today, keep your arms and legs moving and these words on your lips, “Lord Jesus Christ.” You may not get through, but you will find God.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What holds you back from continuously asking, seeking, and knocking? When God doesn’t act in the way you expect, how do you respond? What do you say to people who are disappointed with God?
PRAYER: Lord God, I cannot comprehend your greatness. Like the Psalmist I ask, “Who am I that you should care for me?” When I do get “stuck” in life, remind me to keep moving toward you, asking, seeking and knocking. Let your name be continually on my lips. Amen.
Dave Peterson is an ordained pastor who is the Director of Community Outreach for The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and Scholarly Advisor for the H. E. Butt Family Foundation. He is the author of Receiving and Giving, Unleashing the Bless Challenge in Your Life. Dave and his wife, Terri, have four adult children and four grandchildren.
What if spiritual discipline is easier than we think it is? In his book Celebration of Discipline Richard Foster offers this list of spiritual disciplines: meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, and celebration.
That list can look like a mountain to climb and a setup for failure. We start to ask questions like: What spiritual disciplines should I practice in my work life? Does prayer make a difference in my work life? Does a Christian layperson really need to read the Bible everyday? We wonder how to fit spiritual disciplines into our lives with so many deadlines and meetings and expectations and budgets. Wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air to discover the Holy Spirit at work, even here, even without working so hard to bring the Spirit with us everywhere? We hope this series on Spiritual Disciplines gives you freedom and a little more space to breathe.