Knocking on Heaven’s Door

God does not always give us what we want, even if we ask nicely.

Sarah Condon / 10.13.21

This reflection originally appeared in Daily Grace: The Mockingbird Devotional, Vol. 2, now available in paperback. You can find it in paperback and kindle at our store and on Amazon.

[Jesus said] Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you… 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!” (Mt 7:7, 9-11)

There is a simple song with verses pulled directly from this passage that I grew up singing at least one Sunday a month for almost twenty years in the pews of my childhood church. “Ask and it shall be given unto you / Seek and ye shall find / Knock and the door shall be opened unto you,” we would all sing together as we approached the altar rail for communion. As a child, this message felt like a given. Of course God will take care of me; God loves me!

As an adult, this song and scripture (and, let’s be honest, my version of “care”) always feel more complicated. I can easily be convinced that if God really cares for me then He will give me X thing that I am convinced I need. I can begin to rate God’s care: 4/10 stars, Lord. Would not recommend.

His care becomes contingent on my feelings. Which is probably the heart of this passage. We do not actually know what we want. Or, in my case, we want questionable things.

I would like quiet children. I would like macaroni and cheese to be healthy. Oh, and as long as I am making a wish-list, I would love to be the Queen of the Universe. But God does not always give us what we want or need, even if we ask nicely.

There is a reason that Jesus describes God as a parent in this passage. Because the best mothers and fathers do not give children what they want; they give them what they need. Mercy, consolation, encouragement, and above all, love. And if we are really honest, it is probably what we have been knocking, and seeking, and asking for all along.

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