Print Version October 9th, 2003
Be careful what you ask for!
By hitching these sayings about asking, searching, knocking onto the parable of midnight hospitality, Luke seems to defuse them. ‘Ask and it will be given to you, search and you will find’ but … but it might take a while and it might take repetition and you might have to be persistent.
Something’s wrong with this picture: either God is like a grumpy, recently-roused householder who doesn’t want to be disturbed or God is like a good father who knows how to give good things to his children.
The God who appears in need of serious nudging gets an outing in today’s brief excerpt from the prophet Malachi. “Where are you God? And why aren’t you smiting evildoers and rewarding us good ones? I mean you must have standards … all we want is for you to make them clear. We want you angry God—at least at them?”
Be careful what you ask for?
I think I must have it wrong in the gospel. I’ve been assuming that the grumpy man inside the house was God and you and I are standing outside asking for what we need. But I wonder if that isn’t back to front? I wonder if God isn’t the one outside, the one asking, the one waiting for us to open up. I think maybe we are the ones saying “go away and don’t bother me—it’s late, we’re shut, I can’t”. But—thank God—if we won’t listen for friendship’s sake God’s faithfulness will finally get through to us. Our God is the persistent one, yes, and the good parent who knows how to give us what we need—but, more than either, the one with the gentle knack of getting us to open the closed door of our own hearts to what we don’t even know we need, or desire, even though that longing burns hidden in our bones and breathes in our every breath.