Sometimes the things we want are not really what we want.
That is a truth that, should you put it in your pipe and smoke it, would change your life.
I’m a bit of a redneck at heart, so…Garth Brooks, of course. In college Kristi and I would ride around in my Jeep listening to him, and I’d tell her how much I loved the song “Unanswered Prayers”. She said it was stupid, that there’s no such thing as an unanswered prayer, that just because the answer was no doesn’t mean it wasn’t answered.
I told her she was right but that it wasn’t wise to argue with Garth Brooks.
The thing about us fallen humans is that when we want things, we want them. Like a kid chasing a ball into a street, it’s the only thing perceivable in our world. The only thing that matters.
And then, that Father with His strong arms, and the way the ground disappears under your feet as He lifts you up and away from the road. You kick and scream, because how dare Him? How dare Him keep you from what you want?
Then the car whizzes by, but sometimes we don’t even see or care. We just walk away sulking, giving Him the evil eye. We asked for bread and He gave us a stone. Or so we think.
There have been times in my life where I have railed and begged and pleaded with God, making an infant’s temper tantrum look like a peaceful sit-in, only to come back months later and say, “Phew…thank God that He didn’t do that.”
Some mercies are simply “severe mercies,” as Elisabeth Elliot calls them, but some are just straight up wearing camo. They are hidden, those camouflaged mercies, behind a child’s incredulous angst that cannot imagine what could be better than that ball rolling in the street.
And the best part? He doesn’t shoo us away to learn the lesson in the corner. Those camouflaged mercies often sink in during the patient enduring of our flailing, fists beating against a Father’s chest, secured in arms that just won’t let go no matter how bad you want them to.
Because, after all, you don’t really want them too.
God never withholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God’s refusals are always merciful–“severe mercies” at times but mercies all the same. God never denies us our heart’s desire except to give us something better.