14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
I have heard many Christians use this Scripture to justify going after what they want. I’ve (sadly) also heard pastors use it to get offerings rolling in. “Nothing is impossible for God or for you if you stand in faith!” While I will never tell you not to chase your dreams, I also will never tell you that all you have to do is want it really bad and claim faith that God will fulfill your dreams and poof – he will come through like your own personal genie in a bottle!
With God, all things are possible … so yes, he could fulfill your personal wish list. Yes, you could end up with a six-figure income, a million dollar house, a new car every year, a recording contract, a world-wide ministry, etc. but does wanting them with all of your heart and claiming them “in the name of Jesus” mean that they are in God’s will for your life? Because it is possible for God to grant your every desire, does that mean that he will?
The “name it, claim it” school of thought is still alive and well in America. I see it on TV all of the time. Verbalize your blessing, send in a love offering, receive the “miracle hankie” or “miracle water” and poof … all of the things that you want from God will drop like manna from Heaven. Some people buy into this – but I am not one of them. I don’t believe that God can be bribed into giving us what we want – even when what we want seems like it will be better for more people.
So what happens when what we want doesn’t line up with what God has planned for us? When what we want is something selfish (like winning the lottery, being a ga-zillionaire, etc.), all you have to do is look around and you will see that answer to that one. But what about when what we want is for the “greater good” like a ministry that reaches more people with the Word, or more money for a worthy cause? Since it’s possible for God to make those things happen, why is it that sometimes He doesn’t?
While I can’t give you an absolute “well God says” answer to that question, I can share my thoughts. If every ministry was as big as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, who would be there for the day to day ministry in the small towns? If every Christian band was as big as Casting Crowns, who would be there for the tiny churches all over the world? Even though it is possible for God to grow your ministry as big as the biggest out there, if it doesn’t fulfill his purpose for you, then it is improbable that He will do it.
I once heard a pastor use the phrase “Grow where you’re planted” and I’ve never forgotten it. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God does, in fact, have a plan for us. He plants us where He wants us to be for a season or for a lifetime and when/if it is time for us to move, He transplants us. If we’re so busy focusing on how it’s possible for God to move us to bigger, greener pastures, we won’t do anything where we’re at. We won’t impact anyone, help anyone or lead anyone into a deeper walk with Christ. The big cities are great, but the small towns in between are just as important to God.
Are you growing where God planted you or are praying your way to a bigger tomorrow at the expense of today?
Image courtesy of: alandd. Used by permission.