I enjoy volunteering at a small botanical garden near my home. Occasionally, volunteers are treated to horticulture-related field trips in appreciation for our service. Most of these excursions occur on Mondays since the garden is closed that day. Unfortunately, this timing coincides with Grammie Mondays – what my grandchildren have come to call one of the two days a week I stay with them while my daughter, Mary, goes into her employer’s office to work.
Mary’s been extra-busy the past few weeks, covering her usual assignments, getting three little ones back to school. and picking up some of a co-worker’s responsibilities while she’s on maternity leave. Thus, when I received an e-mail invitation to a behind-the-scenes, Monday tour of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, I didn’t even ask Mary if she could spare me for a few hours. Instead, I showed up for Grammie duty as usual, not begrudgingly, but still somewhat disappointed not to be with my fellow volunteers, oohing and aahing over floral displays and beautifully-landscaped vistas.
When I arrived, Mary told me she was planning to work from home so she could take 2-year-old Emma to an afternoon doctor’s appointment. Wow! I should have asked!! Not that having an extra adult around isn’t always helpful, but I could have gone to ABG and returned to pick 4-year-old Lyla up from pre-school and still been back to Mary’s in plenty of time to stay with Lyla and 7-year-old Joshua while Mary took Emma to get her immunizations.
But I didn’t ask. I assumed. And because I didn’t want to bother Mary or add to her stress, I made the decision unilaterally. However, by not asking, I also didn’t give her a chance to answer, to say yes, to bless me by giving me the opportunity to do something special.
As those of you who’ve read my posts for any length of time know, I’m a ponderer. And so I’ve been mulling over this turn of events, wondering how many other things I’ve missed out on simply because I didn’t ask. Help from willing friends? I don’t want to impose. Encouraging conversation with a spiritual sister over a meal? I bet she’s busy with her family responsibilities. If I spent a little time, this list could no doubt be extensive.
Yet the most sobering examples are times when I haven’t asked God. Years ago, I realized I was praying to God about BIG things, but I didn’t want to bother Him with matters I thought were too trivial. After all, He’s a BIG God, Sovereign over everything. He spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1:1-25), makes the sun rise and set (Jeremiah 31:35), and sustains all of creation. (Matthew 6:25-34)
Thankfully, the infinite, Almighty God has shown me He is also our loving Heavenly Father, who delights in giving good gifts to His children. (Matthew 7:9-11) In fact, He made it possible for us to have a relationship with Him by giving us the most costly gift imaginable, His precious Son. (John 3:16) Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God, interceding for us (Romans 8:34) so we may approach the throne of grace confidently, to receive mercy and find grace in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
One verse in particular underscored my reflections this week and inspired the title of this post: “You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2b) Lest you think James was espousing what’s come to be known as the “prosperity gospel” or “name it and claim it”, he goes on to say, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:3) God isn’t Santa Claus or a benevolent Grandfather. When we ask, we are to ask in accordance with His will, not our own and accept His response. (Matthew 6:10; Matthew 26:39, 42, 44)
The beauty of our promised sanctification is that we are being conformed more and more to the likeness of Jesus. (Romans 8:29) As our minds are renewed we are increasingly able to discern God’s will, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
Had I asked, Mary may have said no. Sometimes God says no. Nevertheless, He bids us to bring our petitions to Him in faith. (John 15:7; Philippians 4:6; 1 John 5:14) May we not be found lacking because we fail to do so.
O Lord, we stand amazed that You who set the moon and stars in their places would deign to notice us. (Psalm 8:3-4)) Yet You’ve adopted us into your family and call us beloved children. (Romans 8:16-17; 1 John 3:1) May we continuously raise our prayers to You, (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) knowing that You didn’t spare your precious Son and will, along with Him, graciously give us all we need for our Homeward journey. (Romans 8:32)
 Jesus taught this principle in both His words and His actions.