It hung there. I did need it and it was on sale. This high tech, 21st century wonder, cost more than average. It was a good deal by any reckoning. I debated, perhaps too long. What were pros? What were the cons? Did I really need this? Was I just buying another ‘unnecessary thing’ to clutter the cupboards? In the end, having weighed the idea of purchase, I decided against it and moved on. But, of course. The very next day, I needed the super duper, high-tech utensil required by every modern household!
I was enraged with myself. How could I be so short-sighted? Hadn’t I already foreseen the need for this? How did I debate the issue in my mind and STILL end up making the wrong choice for something I really needed? I continued in this vain for some time, berating myself. You may think: All this fuss over a utensil?
Clearly, my reaction was not about the item. I started “globalizing” about other decisions in my life of far greater consequence. I was making myself miserable with self-accusation and negative thoughts. Globalized ruminations about past decisions overwhelmed me. I made myself stop! I reasoned rationally: Why was I doing this? Just go buy it. Stop agonising: Just do it!
After I recovered from my self- chastisement, I opted to pray. My prayer was simple. To be candid, I felt a bit foolish. Why should God care about a Soup Spoon? Why would the God of the Universe—no matter how dear I am to Him—bother with such a prayer? God had other things to tend to. Still I prayed: If possible, let me have the item, still on sale at this speciality shop—which was highly doubtful to my mind. And, by the way, thank you.
Some days passed. I found myself again at the shop. The sale was over. I glanced at the spot where I last saw the item. It was not there. I walked on to the homewares department, not really thinking about the spoon or the prayer. As I walked down the aisle, I stopped and looked up. There it hung! The green and black, super-duper 21st century high tech wonder: The ‘Souper’ soup spoon.
I stared for a moment. My mouth dropped. I stood, amazed. It was the same soup spoon I’d not purchased. I recognised the contours, the slightly crumpled backing; the same smudged sale sticker. It dangled there, nestled amongst other houseware items, front and centre: Ripe for the plucking.
These words of scripture came to mind: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”?*[*] My heart swelled. My eyes filled with tears at the thought of God’s graciousness. That He should care for something so trivial and insignificant as my soup spoon prayer astounded me!
I don’t suggest with this example that God is a “sugar daddy” in the sky or a Cosmic Santa catering to our every whim. I believe God intended this experience as an exercise in Faith building. If He can provide a soup spoon for me—even when I’ve cogitated, debated and still made a decision which I later regretted—how much more will He hear my requests for the larger issues in life? If He can affect such a small decision, how much more the greater decisions of life, with far weightier consequences?
Matthew 7:7 goes even further*. We are instructed to ask, seek, and knock. Ask and it will be given. Seek and we will find. Knock and doors shall open. We are shown that everyone who asks, receives. These are emphatic statements. It is we who determine that the prayer is too small; the item or thing too insignificant before God. It is we who set limits and believe God could not, would not, give us that which we seek.
But what happens when we ask for healing, for deliverance from life’s evils and hear nothing, receive nothing? Or so it appears. This is a theologically difficult issue which needs further exploration. We know, however, that we are never separated from God’s love for us, His concern for our lives, no matter what. This is the promise of Romans 8:37. *I return often to the Souper Soup Spoon incident—to this example of God’s love towards me—precisely because it is so ‘insignificant’. If God hears AND answers prayer for a soup spoon, why should I doubt his concern for the larger issues in my life? Will He not hear and answer prayer for far greater things, the weight of which is often difficult to bear?
In times of doubt, wondering about life and decisions, we can trust in God’s infinite love and grace. He wants to give ‘good gifts’ to His children: Just remember the soup spoon!
[*] Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1984, by International Bible Society. Used by permission of International Bible Society.