The other night, my husband decided it was time for our family to watch Where the Red Fern Grows. He loved the book as a kid, and after we got married, he told me I should read it. I am not a dog-loving person like he is, but still I enjoyed the book immensely,despite the tear-jerking ending.
For months he has been suggesting it as a family movie night option, but my little ones have such tender hearts that I was afraid they would be traumatized for life! As it turned out, only one of our children sobbed at the end of the movie and the rest of us absolutely loved it.
At the beginning of the movie, Billy desperately wants a pair of hunting dogs. He sees other people with dogs, but he knows he has no chance of having a pair of his own, because his father is poor. One afternoon (disclaimer – this section plays out differently in the book ) he tells his grandfather how he has been praying for God to give him dogs, but he’s frustrated because nothing is happening. His grandfather tells him that God wants him to work for the dogs; that God is less concerned about Billy getting dogs than Billy building character.
What an excellent lesson from a 1970’s children’s movie! God doesn’t just give us everything we want as soon as we want it.
Imagine what that would be like:
- Oh! I see that beautiful house! God, please let me buy a house like that. Boom! The next day, you inherit $500,000 from a long-lost relative and buy the house.
- I am so tired of being overweight. Please, God, make me lose weight. Boom! You wake up the next morning in the exact middle of your healthy weight range.
- I really want to be a published writer. God, please send me a publisher who wants my book. Boom! You answer your phone and get offered six figures for your manuscript.
As lovely as that sounds, would getting everything you want instantly actually be good for you?
- Those of you who worked hard and saved for a house learned how to budget, how to say no to impulse purchases, and the value of saving. Most of all, you learned to depend on God to help you stay strong.
- Those of you who determined to improve your health by dropping pounds learned how to delay the instant gratification of eating whatever you want, how to keep track of you eat, and the value of self-control. Again, you learned to call on God to keep you from giving in to temptation.
- Those of you who want to publish a book – well, we should get offered a great contract overnight… Haha! Just kidding. I am learning to depend on God to be in control of whether or not my book ever gets traditionally published. I am learning to trust Him to use this – and everything else in my life – to refine my rough edges and make me more Christlike.
All of these situations teach us good lessons and make us better people. So when I hear people say that if God is in something, it will happen easily, I disagree. Certainly, God sometimes smooths our paths in front of us and hands us a surprise blessing, but most of the time, God is much more interested in making us Christlike than in anything else that could happen in our lives.
And you know what? If working for something – waiting for something – draws me to my knees and makes me call out to God, I’ll take it and praise Him for it.