What do you want?

The Covington News - - RELIGION - COLUM­NIST

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

Sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Pas­tor Phillip Jones (Right) and his wife McKen­zie (Left).

JONATHON SCHARF

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