Recently, I was in a Bible study and we were talking about Jesus’ words in Luke 11:9, where Jesus says, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” One of the ladies in the group was really vulnerable when she shared how she’s unhappy with God about this verse. She explained that it seems like God is setting us up to be disappointed because God hasn’t given her the things for which she’s asked. And I totally agree with her.
As we talked about this verse and the whole challenge of being disappointed with God, I remembered a major disappointment with God from my teen years. I’ll never forget reading the Luke 11:9 verse and taking it as God’s promise. So when I was 15 years old, for more than a year, I repeatedly and fervently asked God for the car I wanted, a grey Audi 4000 turbo. I would soon be getting my driver’s license, so I figured that I needed a car. I looked at Luke 11:9 as God’s promise to give me what I asked for and when it didn’t happen, I was very disappointed.
Instead of the grey Audi 4000 turbo (a very beautiful and great car in 1984), I took my savings and bought a burnt orange Volkswagen Rabbit, 1978 with 60,000 miles on it, manual shift. My first car received no tender loving care from me because I had no clue how to take care of a car. I barely knew how to put fuel in the gas tank and I was clueless about oil changes–never heard of that. When I drove over a parking barrier and ripped open the oil pan, I didn’t know I needed to get that repaired. Obviously, my learning curve for car maintenance and repair was totally vertical and expensive–all on this poor, little, ugly two door, burnt orange, manual shift 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit.
As I sat in that Bible study a few weeks ago, I remembered not only the disappointment with God about not getting the Audi, I also fondly recalled my first car even though I treated it poorly.
At the same time, I felt Holy Spirit gently ask me what car I drive now, more than 35 years later. “I drive an Audi.”
“What color is your car, Sarah?” Holy Spirit asked me. “Grey,” I replied.
“And is it turbo, like the one you asked for when you were a teenager?”
“Yes,” I replied, “it’s very fast.” I know it’s fast since I got a speeding ticket only two days after first getting it, because I had to acclimate to it’s peppy engine. For a split second, I thought about how I like to drive fast and how this could have played out for me when I was 16 years old, with a new driver’s license and a very fast car.
At that moment, I had an epiphany. God absolutely answered my prayer for the Audi, but not on my timeline.
I think it’s really important to consider that generally, we don’t understand existence outside of time. Life, as a human, has a beginning, middle and end, all heavily influenced and even defined by time. In contrast, God exists outside of time. Indeed, God made time. So for God, maybe time (with beginning, middle and end) is a human filter for perception and not an essential consideration for our all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful God.
Have you asked God for something that God hasn’t given to you and now you’re disappointed or at least curious why God didn’t answer you as you wanted? Is it possible that there could be a timing ingredient to your request that you haven’t considered and maybe God is answering your request, but not in your timing?
I’m thankful that God can withstand our disappointment with the requests we make and not getting the answers we want. To this end, let’s choose to trust in God’s character more than the disappointment we experience from prayers that don’t get answered the way we want nor in our preferred timing.
Ultimately, God is our loving heavenly Father who gives us good gifts that will be beneficial to us, in divine timing and loving provision.