Thursday, March 29, 2012


There are times when I think that the world would be so much better if God could just grant my wishes.  I don't ask for much.  A little extra money to help pay the bills or for the weather to be just right when I have something planned outdoors isn't too much to ask, is it?  Didn't Jesus say to "ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you" (John 15:7b)?  Why, then, does it seem that I rarely get what I ask for?

We've all heard the saying "if wishes were fishes, the ocean would be full."  Certainly, God couldn't grant every wish or petition we ask for.  If every wish was granted, the outcomes would not be quite what we expect.  For example, the lottery is currently at somewhere around $363 million.  Let's say that everyone who plays the lottery says a quick prayer asking to win.  I have no idea how many people play the lottery, but I think that one million is a fairly conservative number.  If all one million people won, each person would only get $363.  That is certainly not the quick road to being a millionaire that most people would be wishing for.

This brings me to another aspect of wishing.  From a logical standpoint, it would be impossible for all one million of the lottery players to win based solely on the fact that they wouldn't all play the same number.  I suppose that, technically, God could choose to switch everyone's numbers to the same one that comes up in the drawing and rearrange everyone's memory so that they thought they chose the new numbers, but that seems needlessly complex.  Beyond the mere impracticality of God granting wishes, though, I think there's a better explanation to why there's that apparent contradiction from John's Gospel account and our experiences.

As with many things, we often pick up on only a small portion of what's really there.  It is so easy to hear, "Ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you," and forget that there's more to be said.  The full verse reads: "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (John 15:7)  This comes in the middle of Jesus talking about the True Vine.  In this, Jesus explains how a branch cannot bear fruit if it is not connected to the vine.  The analogy is quite clear when Jesus explains that He is the vine, and we are the branches.  Knowing this context, it becomes a bit easier to sort out what Jesus means in verse seven.

In order for God to grant whatever we wish, we must abide in Jesus and let Jesus' words abide in us.  If this is true, than we will only wish for that which already accords with God's will.  This is not saying that we have some secret to get whatever we want.  What we have is a simple statement that, if we can learn to desire what God desires for us, we can have that.

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