No Permission Needed
“You desire but do not have … You covet but you cannot get what you want. You do not have because you do not ask God.” James 4:2 (NIV)
Self-reliance. It’s always been one of my defining character traits. My wife would say I have “5 tendencies overlaying my strong 3 enneagram profile.” I might agree if I believed in such things. Instead, I just prefer saying I like depending on myself.
In fact, for much of the first half of my life, I took great pride in my ability to figure things out, to hit my goals with no one’s help. I never sought out a mentor, never really asked anyone for help. As my mother-in-law has always said, “if you need something done, give it to Robin – if he doesn’t know how to do it, he’ll figure it out.”
I was the definition of self-reliant. In my professional world, it would be called “staying on brand.”
And Then, Everything Changed
It started with me taking a chance leaping from a secure job with a global technology company to one of relative risk with a start-up, moving my family halfway across the country to Colorado and planting ourselves into a new community and a new life.
I did all of this with no guidance, no advice or counsel, no real long-term plan. I didn’t ask God for discernment. Perhaps I didn’t think I needed help. Or maybe I felt I need special permission to ask God to show me His will. Whatever the reason, I simply discussed it with my wife and after one visit to the new city, we made the plunge.
To make a very long story short, that single decision – made without seeking God’s help – eventually led to an extended period of struggle for our family. What appeared to start as a season of abundance, in fact transformed into a season of hardship financially, relationally, and spiritually. And yet, it was ultimately a season of growth in our faith in God. A season eventually leading us to Austin.
One of my favorite books in the New Testament is James. Although only 108 verses, this book is packed with insight. In the first chapter, James writes “But if any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He is generous to everyone and will give you wisdom without criticizing you.” (James 1:5).
Before my decision to uproot our family and relocate, we were faithful, but not consistently so. We had no church family, neither my wife nor I spent daily time in the Word, and we seldom prayed together. In truth, I can honestly say I rarely went to God in prayer. For anything.
The aftermath of our move to Colorado changed my family. More importantly, it changed me. My eyes were opened during that journey about the importance of taking my decisions to God, placing the answers in His guiding hands. And I learned three important lessons.
- God knows our path. David confessed in Psalm 139:3 “You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.” God knows us and the path He wants us to walk. If we ask Him in trust and belief, He will show us. We can stumble blindly through life, struggling every day to find direction as we “feel” our way from one experience to the next. Or we can turn our lives over to God and His wisdom. When we choose this path, we will never be lost, even in our most profound moments of doubt.
- God longs for our prayers. In Isaiah 30:15, God tells Israel “If you come back to me and trust me, you will be saved. If you will be calm and trust me, you will be strong.” God wants us to come to Him both in our times of struggle and our times of abundance. He is never too busy, never too preoccupied with other “heavenly” matters to hear us when we come to Him in vulnerability and transparency.
- God has already given us permission to ask. One of the most difficult concepts facing many Christians and non-Christians alike is understanding that God’s gift of salvation and redemption has already been freely offered to us – all we need to do is ask Him. He’s waiting on us and we don’t need special permission. There is nothing for us to “earn.” As God tells us in Proverbs 8:17, “I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently find Me.” Sadly, this truth often gets lost in trappings and rituals of “religion.”
God Accepts Us Anywhere, Anytime
1 John 5:14-15 teaches that “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.” God wants us to ask Him for guidance in all things big and small. We don’t need to await His invitation, we don’t need a special sanctuary where someone else leads us in prayer, there are no secret tests we must pass to earn the right of God’s presence.
Realizing that the only thing keeping me from God’s strength and will was … me transformed my life. And it can transform yours!
The truth is, we can approach God any time – right here, right now, wherever and whoever we are. He’s waiting patiently on us, no permission needed. So press in, and go to God. He will love you with an abundance more complete than anything you’ve ever experienced!
May God always guide your path.