Am I Praying for Serpents?

Another Father’s Day in the books and it was a lot like last year.

My twin daughters are possibly a little jet-lagged as they burst into my bedroom around 5:30 am to announce it’s Father’s Day! I had never been so grateful to be woken up at such an hour. The three of us joined the host team again this year and greeted all the church-goers as they walked in the building. After church we went for dim sum with my sister and brother-in-law.

I see a tradition forming.

But amidst all the joy that this day obviously brought on, I felt a strong sense of sadness, grief and some shame. The sermon was timely for me as it often seems to be. It was what I needed to hear but I didn’t necessarily want to hear it.

In short, it was about God being our Father. Our perfect Father. Some of us have good earthly fathers and some of us do not. Regardless of how well our earthly fathers are at fatherhood they will inevitably fall short and leave their children yearning for something more. Our dads, no matter how great they might seem, can never effectively feed our God hunger.

So since God is our perfect Father, we can trust Him with our life, no matter the circumstance. We can trust that He has our best interest in mind because he loves us perfectly. We can trust that we will always belong because he forgives us of every sin past, present and future. We can trust that He will always provide for our needs.

None of these points from the sermon was new to me. I believe them and have believed them for most of my life.

But then came the part that punched me in the gut.

God will often say “no” because what we want is not what He has planned for us. What we want is not in line with what we need.

The passage of scripture talked about how fathers would never give their children stones instead of bread. They would never give them a snake instead of a fish. So how much more can we trust that our heavenly Father will always give us what we need?

The passage does not say that since God loves us He will always answer our prayers in the way we want. It does not say that our desires are always going to coincide with His will for our lives.

My main prayer for the last two years was for God to miraculously restore my family. I wanted so badly to be able to reconcile with my wife of nearly 10 years. Yes I grieved the loss of the marriage (mainly because my counselor told me I had to) and yes I knew that the chances were not great that we could ever get back together after the destruction I brought on our family. But that was my desire nonetheless. I met many members of SA where God did save their marriage and their recovery allowed their spouse to see them as a new person. That gave me a glimmer of hope.

But it was not to be. The hope for reconciliation is gone and I have to face that reality every day.

So today I was forced to look inside my heart and realize something that is humbling to admit. I am a little pissed at God for not answering my prayer. I know that He has brought me to Nashville to find recovery. I know that He has led me every step of the way to get where I am today. Words cannot explain how grateful I am to Him for all that He has done and is doing in my life.

But I’m still a little pissed off.

Why did He answer this particular prayer with a “no?” Maybe I will never know but if I am to avoid the number one killer among addicts – something called resentment – then I must continue to practice surrender and acceptance. I must admit that I am not God and I do not know what is best for my life. I must trust that His “no” is actually a “yes.”

Yes to a better future and a better me.

Another part of the sermon that really rocked me was when the pastor explained that even though a loving father would never give a serpent when his son asked for a fish, many times we ask God for a serpent thinking it’s a fish. We ask for the thing that will destroy us thinking it will fulfill us.

If one of my daughters asked me to eat cake for dinner I would say no. She might get mad at me and think I was a bad daddy but I would still hold strong with my answer. Eating only cake for dinner would be really bad for her even though she might not know that.

A “no” can sometimes be way more caring than a “yes.”

I choose today to accept this truth for myself and turn my anger, will and need for control over to a power greater than myself.

And this is the greatest Father’s Day gift of all. One that will keep on giving…



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