No One Will Take It Away

“So with you:  Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.  In that day you will no longer ask me anything.  I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.  Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.  John 16:22-24.

This passage reminds much of Psalm 37:4 which says Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. I know it’s hard to trust this because we have so many times found disappointment at the end of wishing on a star.  However, this promise is different from the wish upon a star variety in that it first demands a conformity of mind and heart to that of God.

The same case can be made for Jesus’ words above.  What we ask for is not so much the issue as who we are when we ask.  Being one with Christ demands we take on His mind so our thoughts and desires are in alignment with who He is and what He does.

There are so many misunderstandings on the issue of what God wants for us that I would be hard pressed to know all the answers, let alone the remember the questions.  One thing I do know is we should know God by what He has made as much as what is written in His Word.  For instance, could a God who made tastebuds be all bad?  How about the fact that He designed us with sexual pleasure as part of the package—a woman has +/- 14 days a month where sex is possible without getting pregnant, which means He intended us to find pleasure in the act not just produce children.  So, God isn’t just utilitarian but a being who loves joy, fun and pleasure.

At the same time there are things which drag us to a hell of our own making or a corporate vision of rebellion against God.  Whenever I hear someone grading sin (and I do believe there are grades of evil), I remind myself and sometimes them that all it took to lose Eden was a piece of fruit.  Adam and Eve didn’t commit a heinous crime or some all out insurrection but simply showed their distrust of God through eating fruit He told them to avoid.  The woman who’s security is found mostly in her husband’s paycheck will know hell once that well of “security” dries up through some disaster, loss or divorce.  Unless her security is found in Christ alone she will go through hell’s misery on earth out of lack of faith in His ability to provide.  A man who doesn’t control his thoughts about sex or greed will find hell on earth every time he fails to trust God with the supply of either.  We cannot depend on anything or anyone other than the Master of our souls.

The disciples’ (and thus our) grief cannot turn to joy unless belief carries on to faith.  We must trust the mission of Christ, His very word about it, and grab onto the resurrection with both hands—like the grip of Jacob who wrestled God for a blessing.  No casual belief or “faith” works here, for God works through those who are open to Him—in whatever measure.  From what Jesus reveals in His statement “Ask and you will receive” God wants to work through us and in us.  In fact, I believe He’s eager and waiting for us to ask.

The problem is what we ask for most of the time has nothing to do with His will on earth but almost always our own temporary gain.  Remember Jesus’ words to the woman at the well?  “A time is coming when the people of God will worship…in Spirit and in truth…for these are the kind of worshipers the Father desires.” The reality of our Christan walk, however, speaks more to a desire for earthly comfort and pleasure than it does any longing for God’s will.  The true follower asks in Christ’s name not because it magically opens up the blessing but because we have taken it for our own.  Our surname is now “Christian,” or the name of Jesus, for we take on His name when we accept Him as our Savior and Lord.  This very fact opens us up to His will and once we know this we ask according to that will.

We are new creatures in Christ, if He rules in our hearts, which means our desires have changed to reflect His nature.  As a consequence of this change, the old person has died and we are raised to a new life in Christ, subtracting forever the old desires and cravings of the sinful being we once were.  What we ask in this state is diametrically opposed to old nature for these two natures are in contention with each other—a war to the death in which only one can stand.

We ask God in the name of Jesus for those things He desires in and for us.  By claiming the name of Jesus and taking it on as our family identity we no longer crave anything that goes against His nature.  No one can take away the joy He gives us when He holds us in His hands.

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One Response to “No One Will Take It Away”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    It is true that once we have been transformed by the renewing of our mind our prayers do change. They become less self focused or what I call the “gimme” factor. When we understand that we belong to him and he has given us everything we need today (give us this day our daily bread) and tomorrow will take care of itself, we begin to understand the faith Jesus was trying to show us. It’s what the woman at the well caught in the conversation. Great post.

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