What do you want?
What do you want? I know, we can quickly fill a list of things we want to have or do, things we might want our families to experience, but I’m asking more than that. What do you really want? Why do we want the things we want or want to do the things we want to do? What is the goal? What is it really we want?
Take a minute and try to answer that question. You know, some of the wisest among us might say, “Well, it’s not so much any destination. I want the journey.” “I want life, not for the sake of accomplishing any one thing in particular, but life for its own sake.” OK, great – so what do you want that life to be?
Maybe it will be easier to think about it if we remove it one step. Forget for a moment about all the things you’ve tried and failed, all the ways you’ve lived life that haven’t always been the answer. Think next generation. What do you want for your kids or grandkids?
These are important questions to answer, aren’t they? Because they will dictate what we do. They will determine what our lives look like, what I choose to do, and the decisions I make in raising my children, so that I can get to the life that I want.
Let’s say I’m planting a garden. If I want tomatoes, well, I need to plant tomato seeds. It’s not rocket science – but, friends, the majority of our world’s population, while they may think ahead to what they want in their garden. They don’t think ahead to what they want out of life. And all too often we join in and plant the wrong thing, and forget why we are here. So today, let’s remedy that.
Our text is the account of Solomon being asked that question by God (1 Kings 3). And there is a lesson for us here. Solomon has just taken over the throne of his father David. He’s king of a world superpower. He’s probably around 20 years old. He’s got a pretty bright future. And God comes to him in the middle of the night and gives him one wish.
Can you imagine that? That’s the genie in the lamp scenario, right? And we all know the right answers to that, don’t we? “I want unlimited wishes.”
If you think about it that’s kind of what Solomon asked for. But he wasn’t asking it of a fictional genie. He was asking of God. And look at how he came to his answer for what he wanted. He realized his situation and what he needed and he realized of whom he was asking it.
So, what was his situation? He had a job that was too big for him. He could not handle it. But the beauty of it was - he realized it. He saw that he needed help.
Are we there yet, or do we think we’ve got our situations handled? Does God need to pile a bit more on before we realize the truth, that like Solomon that we are incapable of handling it on our own? … that we need his help? If you’re not there, file this somewhere where you can read it once you’ve realized that you’re in over your head.
If we’re honest, we’re right there with Solomon, “I’m not fit for the task”. Verse 7, “I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.” “I don’t know how to do what you’re asking me, Lord. I need your help.”
Actually, more accurately, he answered, “Lord, I need you.” Do you see how that changes it? Instead of fo- cusing on what we want, the question is changed to who we want.
I mean, everyone knows Solomon asked for wisdom, right? Well, kind of. But really, the Hebrew word for wisdom isn’t there. What he asked for was, real literally, a heart that hears. As he was speaking with God he asked for a heart that hears God. Think of how powerful that is. Instead of a what, he asked for a whom. Instead of riches he asked for relationship. Now, before, I said that Solomon asked for the equivalent of more wishes. Do you see what I mean? He asked that he’d be able to hear God. That he would keep listening, and in so doing, he’d have God’s power and God’s presence. And God was pleased with that request. So he gave Solomon everything.
Now back to you and me. What does that mean?
What are we asking for? God has given us the open offer of prayer. What do we ask for? Tell me, do you fall into the same trap I too often do? Is your answer to what you want so self-serving that it ignores the giver for the gift? “I want happiness lord, I want health” Maybe even, “I want you to bless someone else.” Yes, those are great things, but if we’re looking at God as a vending machine, we’re missing the real blessing. And then, if we don’t get what we ask for it seems like God failed. It seems pointless to ask, and faith is shaken, and our prayer did more harm to us than good. Instead of asking God to hear us with our list of demands, let’s ask for a heart that hears God. Let’s ask Him for a relationship with Him
And then, before we hear anything else, we’ll hear his love. Instead of living like all the other voices matter more, we’ll hear his forgiveness and realize what he means to us. Because he is pleased to give that gift — A hearing heart — a heart that pays attention to God’s Word, trained by God’s voice, governed by God’s will so that we can carry out our duties. Let’s ask for God with us.
And then let’s take him up on the offer when he gives us our answer. Read his Word. Get to church. Come to Bible Study — all so that more and more you have what Solomon asked for — a heart that hears God. Believe me, that’s what you want.
Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Worship every Sunday is at 8 & 10:30am. Full sermons and more information can be found at www. abidinggrace.com
Pastor Phillip Jones (Right) and his wife McKenzie (Left).