Want versus Need….

“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

Matthew 7:11 NLT

Have you heard the saying, “God doesn’t give us what we want, He gives what we need.”  I have-many times and unfortunately I believed it for many years.  After all, there are many things I want, have asked for in prayer even, but since I haven’t received them yet, this saying must be true, right? Wrong!

God has always provided me everything I need from the very basics of oxygen to breath to food, water, clothing, a roof over my head and even reliable transportation.  But is that really all God is going to give me, or you?  No, God gives us more than the bare necessities.  His word is full of promises that go beyond what we need.  Psalms 37:4 tells us if we delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts.  Desire is another word for “wants”, not “needs.”  Abraham desired a child.  He didn’t need an heir.  He told God he planned to leave his fortune to a servant. (Genesis 15:2) Attempting to manufacture his own miracle he created a son with Hagar.  But God still gave him the heir He promised. God still gave him Isaac.

David and Bathsheba committed adultery and from their sin produced a son. As punishment for David’s attempt to cover up his sin God took the life of that child shortly after his birth.  But that wasn’t the end of David and Bathsheba’s story.  What did God do next? He gave David and Bathsheba another son, Solomon.  David had other children already-Solomon wasn’t a need.  Solomon was a want that God gave them. (2 Samuel 12:14, 24)

Matthew 7:11 compares God to earthly parents.  If you’re a parent I am confident you wear yourself out providing for the basic needs of your children, but you do more than that.  Don’t we as parents strive to give our children what they want too?  Don’t we delight in seeing our children’s joy when they receive that special present they longed for, not necessary something they need but something they will find true delight in.  I believe God does that for us too.  Within reason, God gives us what we want too.

Provided our desires line up with His will, He promises that whatever we ask for in His name, it will be done. (John 14:13-14) “Whatever” certainly doesn’t sound like just our basic needs. Whatever means everything we ask for in Jesus’ name, will be given to us.  The key phrase is “in Jesus’ name”-meaning in His will.  And God’s will is to definitely give us more than what we need-He longs to see the joy on our faces as we receive His blessings, that special present we’ve longed for no matter how long we’ve been asking Him for it.

What is the desire of your heart?  Is it a godly marriage, children, a dream job?  Have you aligned it with God’s will for your life?  Marriage, children, even careers aren’t anything we need.  But if they are part of God’s plans “for good, to prosper…to give us hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) then we have to trust that He will give them to us. Just like our children ask us for wants (or if you aren’t a parent, remember the wants you asked your own parents) we can boldly approach our Heavenly Daddy asking Him for our wants too.  Keep in mind, God is not a genie-we can’t rub a lamp and ask Him to grant us 3 wishes.  But God does delight in showering His blessings upon us, including gifting us with “the desires of our hearts.”

A Biblical Perspective on the Wizard of Oz

My children and I watch the Wizard of Oz once a year.  Typically it’s done at Halloween time but this year due to traveling out of town we didn’t watch it until Thanksgiving weekend.  In watching Dorothy’s journey through Oz I found some amazing biblical wisdom from such a classical feature film.

How does Dorothy get to Oz?  A tornado carries her house to Munchkinland. She finds herself spiraling (literally) through a frightening storm and ends up somewhere far from home, in a land so strange and nothing like Kansas.

She doesn’t just land in Munchkin Land, the house falls on and kills the wicked witch of the East saving the munchkins from her evil wrath.  How many times have our storms been used to rescue others from the grasp of the evil one?  Romans 8:28 tells us God uses everything for His glory.  That includes our storms-the storms we walk through and come out of stronger and closer to God, He will use as a guide for others when they encounter similar storms or to stop them before they enter a storm.  Your storm could be the house that crushes the evil about to attack someone else.

Dorothy makes an enemy of the wicked witch of the West when she receives the ruby slippers that hold a mass quantity of power that is a threat to the witch.  We too, when we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior and wear the Ruby slipper of His salvation upon our hearts-become a major threat and foe to our enemy, the devil.

Of course, after crash landing in Munchinkin Land and encountering an evil witch, Dorothy just wants to go home.  But how can she?  She has to go to Oz and seek help from the wizard.  And how does she get to Oz?  Following the yellow brick road of course.  When we are lost, confused and just want to go home (back to the land of familiar and safety) we can seek Christ.  And we don’t have to walk down a yellow brick road through a forest of angry and assaulting apple trees, or be attacked by flying monkeys to get to God.  We just have to get on our knees and pray. Get in His word and read. Jeremiah 29:12-14 tells us, if we pray, He will listen.  If we seek Him, we will find Him, if we seek Him with all our hearts.  When we humble ourselves before Him, He will return us to our home, to the promised land He prepares for us.

Along her journey, Dorothy befriends a brainless scarecrow, a heartless tinman and a cowardly lion.  Each are seeking their own “healing” from the wizard.  So they travel together, to find the Wizard of Oz. Studying the scarecrow, tinman and lion, I’m reminded of God’s promises for wisdom (If I only had a brain), love (If I only had a heart), and courage (If only I were brave.) James 1:5 tells us if we lack wisdom, ask God for it and He will give it to us.  Ezekiel 36:26 promises He will give us new hearts, removing the stone from us and giving us hearts of flesh.  2 Timothy 1:7 promises God does not give us a spirit of fear (or cowardice) but of power, love and a sound-mind.  God gives us wisdom, love and courage whenever we ask Him for these things.  But like Dorothy and her friends faced much evil opposition traveling to Oz, we can face opposition seeking Christ.  The enemy’s flying monkeys may not capture us and lock us up in the tower of a castle but they can capture our minds when we entertained their confusion, their doubt, their fears and their disbelief.  Confusion, doubt, fear and disbelief all lock us up spiritually and keep us from walking with God.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us without faith it is impossible to please God.  Elisabeth Elliot was quoted as saying “Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.”  We have a choice-seek God for wisdom, love and courage-and trust Him to equip us, or believe the enemy’s flying monkeys’ lies and cower to confusion, doubt, fear and disbelief.

When Dorothy and her friends meet the wizard He masks himself as huge flaming animated head.  Goes for a real theatrical effect.  But Toto reveals the “little man behind the curtain” and they discovers Oz is just a man, and like Dorothy was blown away by a storm years past.  Thankfully our God does not mask who He is-nor is He just a little man behind a curtain.  Our God is mighty, all powerful and all knowing.  And He promises to deliver us, redeem us, guide us, love us, protect us, comfort us and equip us to be the man and woman He made us to be. He promises all of this repeatedly in His word!

The wizard will only help Dorothy and her friends when they defeat the evil witch of the west and return to Oz with her broomstick.  I think God equips us with wisdom, love and courage the same way-facing the Giants in our life and defeating the enemy’s lies with His truth.  We go through trials and grow patience, learn to trust Him more and ever increase our faith.  God is not a magic genie who hands out wishes.  He is our Heavenly Father who gifts us with trials to grow us.  But unlike the wizard, God equips us for every battle we face if we fully rely on Him.  And He is with us through every battle.  God will never send us to fight and wait in the land of Oz for us to bring back satan’s pitch fork.

In the end, evil is defeated.  The scarecrow, the tinman and the lion achieve wisdom, love and courage through the battle, but not from ridiculous gifts the wizard makes up for them. By facing their fears (courage) coming up with a plan to save Dorothy (wisdom) and putting their own life on the line for someone else (love.) Dorothy, by clicking her heels three times and saying “there’s no place like home” wakes up again in Kansas.

Our lives are a balance of good versus evil as well.  Paul tells us we aren’t fighting flesh and blood enemies but spiritual darkness.  In the end though, we win.  Our trials grow us in wisdom, love and courage.  When all hope is lost, we can pray and trust God to deliver us in His time and in His way back to the land He promised us.  But remember, Isaiah 45:22 tells us God is God, there is no other. We don’t turn to a wizard for guidance or salvation.  We turn to the One true God.  And Hebrews 13:14 reminds us that this world is not our home.  Someday we will all be fitted with ruby red slippers that take us to the emerald city with pearly gates, and walk the golden streets of Heaven-when God calls us to our real home.  And since we aren’t of this world but truly belong to Heaven, there really is no place like home.