It Takes a Lot More Than a List of Wishes

by Andy Wood on July 24, 2009

in Executing Your Plan, Five LV Laws, LV Cycle, Principle of Increase

wishful thinking“I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” -1 Corinthians 9:22-23, The Message

I’ve devoted a lot of time to a life powered by wishful thinking.  With that came a lot of declaring about what I was going to do, and by when.  Those lists I referred to in the last post even contain a pretty crazy collection of audacious plans.  Just one problem.  Some of them are lifetime pursuits, and I still haven’t started the chase.

Setting goals or writing down wish lists is a bit like writing a check.  It’s only as good as the resources that stand behind it.  What good is a list of wishes without a course that lays out how to experience their fulfillment?  The good news is, the Bible does offer a path that takes us from dreams to discoveries.  If you want to increase the likelihood of having your hopes fulfilled, you’ll find it by asking, acting, and giving.

Ask

Let’s not overlook the obvious.  God established his kingdom so that things happen as a result of the praying of his people.  I love the way The Message paraphrases the words of Jesus:  “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need.  This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in” (Matthew 7:7-8, The Message).

Think about this: generally speaking, your life today is the direct result of what you have asked God to make it and what you believed it would become.

Are there exceptions to that?  Of course.  But I have observed, to my chagrin, that when I experience The Day From Hell, it’s often because I didn’t ask God for anything different.  Or I asked with no faith, or with selfish motives.

What do you want?  Ask God for it, and be specific.  God says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3, NKJ).  He is eagerly awaiting a chance to show you how powerfully and faithfully He can fulfill the desires of your heart.

Does that mean He’s a celestial Santa Claus?  No.  He’s not a cosmic killjoy either.

Pray big, God will answer big.  Pray specific, God will answer specific.  “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2, NASU).

Act

Sometimes we’re praying when God actually has other ideas.  Sometimes He wants us to be the answer to our own prayer – or somebody else’s.  I once heard of a dad who was leading a family prayer time.  He told God about the many needs of the poor widow across the street.  Tears of sympathy rolled down his wife’s cheeks.  But one member of the family wasn’t praying.  He was thinking.  When Dad said “Amen,” his son walked over to him with his hand held out and said, “Dad, give me your wallet and I’ll go over there and answer your prayer myself.”

Sometimes when we ask the Lord to do something, He says, “No!  You do it!”  You make the call.  You show the love.  You touch the heart.  You serve the meal.  You clean up the mess.  You ask for the job.  He doesn’t send you and abandon you, but He does send you.  That’s especially true when it’s related to one of your goals or dreams.  Nobody is more committed to your fulfillment than you are.  The Lord will empower you, embolden you, and wise you up.  People will give you more help and support than you deserve.  But sooner or later, you’ll have to actually do something.

Give

“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity” (Luke 6:38, The Message).   That’s a universal principle, applicable to any dimension of life.

It’s also tri-directional.  When Joel and I first started sharing ideas about LifeVesting, we talked about “GodVesting,” “OtherVesting,” and “SelfVesting.”  LifeVesting involves all three.  And the proportional return that Jesus talked about will be in like kind.  As you give to God, God will return to you, “with bonus and blessing.”  As you give to others, others will give back.  As you invest in yourself, you increase your capacity to receive, as well as give more in the future.

Let’s Put it All Together.

Suppose your life’s dream is to be a physician.  So you ask.  “Oh, God, make me a doctor!”  He’s perfectly capable of doing that.

Most likely, though, he’ll say, “ACT! Go to medical school.”  You take the tests (asking for God’s mercy and help), and you’re in.  You give of your time and money to invest in yourself and the future care of your patients.

You’re now past asking; you’re begging God for help.  And every day you act in the direction of your dream.  And as part of that process, you’re asked to give of your services and instruction to others who need care and medical learning themselves.  It’s a marvelous process, and requires the continuous interchange of asking, acting, and giving.

So what do you want?

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