I smiled at a recent conversation between my two-and-a-half-year-old grandson and his mother:
Ezra: “Can we go to the playground today?”
Ezra’s mom: “No…not today, baby.”
Ezra: “Can we go to the playground?”
Ezra’s mom: “I said ‘Not today,’ Ezra.”
Ezra: “I’m going to give you oooone more chance, Mama. I said ‘Can we go to the playground?’”
Ezra’s mom: “Ezra, Mama and Daddy are the only ones who can say ‘one more chance’”.
Ezra: “Oh…Well…Can we go to the playground?”
We do this sometimes with God. We wish for things and sometimes we even ask for things that we know are against His expressed will. He has already told us we cannot go to that playground, but we keep insisting that going there is what we desire, as if we are not listening to him at all. Sometimes we ask for material things, knowing all along that we already are much too obsessed with riches. We ask for promotions to other cities, not minding the fact that there are no faithful churches or Christian encouragers there. We ask for success on the corporate ladder without ever giving a thought to the stairway to heaven. This can also be described as the Balaam syndrome. (Read Numbers 22-24).
Then we give God “another chance” sometimes. We act as if we are in control. We build our own little towers of Babel (Genesis 11) and begin to actually think we can make our own rules of philosophy and morality. We discount His absolute truth in favor of our relativism. We dismiss His power and talk about how we can save the planet. We even decide we can define things like life’s beginning point and marriage and even gender. We just kind of tell God that we’ll give Him another chance to get it right.
James said it this way:
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4).
All of our misguided ambitions and repeated pleas for things outside His will make us His enemies and, ultimately separate us from Him eternally.
James also gives us the direct route to true success. It’s friendship with God. It’s spelled out in verses six through ten of the same chapter:
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.