If I asked you what your sentiment toward God and requests was, how would you respond? Who, would you say, is the one doing the convincing? Who, do you think, is the one doing the pleading?

The answer’s obvious, isn’t it? When we think about God and requests, we are the ones who are asking, we are the ones who are pleading, because we are the ones who are trying to change God’s mind. We think that God has it all planned out, which He has, so we are just trying to make Him ‘bend’ His plans a little, so that we can have whatever short term gain that we were looking for at that moment.

After all, it was Abraham who interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah, and it was the prophets who continually interceded for Israel. Indeed, the whole book of Psalms is about David pleading and interceding for himself. So it is little wonder then that we go away with this impression that God is this tyrant who bulldozes His way through our lives with His plans, and we can scarce do anything about it.

But what if I told you that we have been wrong about God? What if I told you that for as much as we think we are pleading with God to adjust His plans for us, He too is pleading with us to have us change our plans for Him?

I know what you are thinking. To the last man who didn’t listen,

“…the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.” Jonah 1:4

And after the ensuing argument which saw the offender being thrown overboard,

“…the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Jonah 1:17

Yes, indeed, God can be less than subtle sometimes. But you do realize what was at stake for Nineveh if Jonah didn’t listen, right?

“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” Jonah 3:4

They only had forty days left to sort themselves out before the consequence of their actions caught up with them. And while we think that God could have averted the danger for them and bought them more time, we also remember that

“You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.” 1 Peter 1:17 [MSG]

So instead of intervening with a delay, which would probably have sent the wrong message to the people and make them think that their actions were actually condoned by God, He intervened by sending Jonah. And for the ‘Jonah’ solution to work, time was tight and the little escapade with the fish was necessary.

But God doesn’t always ‘zap’ us into obedience. He doesn’t always hammer us into submission. In fact, through Jesus, our Father shows us that He really would rather sit and reason with us, so that we may change our minds and let His perfect will be done in our lives, instead of stubbornly wanting it our flawed and imperfect way. Joseph was one such example.

“But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20

Joseph was facing a huge dilemma at the time when the angel of the Lord appeared to him. As we all know, he was betrothed to a lady named Mary. And after

“…Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:18

So what were the ‘things’ that Joseph was thinking about when the angel of the Lord appeared?

“…Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.” Matthew 1:19

‘Put her away’, or in another words, annul the coming marriage, cancel the festivities, call the whole thing off. And who would blame him? After all, check out his lineage.

“…Joseph, son of David…” Matthew 1:20

He came from David’s line. Now, even though His family had lost power and His people have now come under Roman rule, He was still from the line of the greatest king Israel had ever known. So if a common man would think twice about marrying a woman who was found pregnant before the wedding, what more him?

But in an effort to change his mind, our Father didn’t throw Joseph into the belly of a fish, did He? He didn’t zap him into obedience nor hammer him into submission. He just sent an emissary to negotiate. An angelic ethereal emissary no less, but an emissary nonetheless and all he did was talk.

Then there was this man.

“Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”” John 20:24-25

Here’s a curious question for you. If you were Jesus, how would you respond? Strike him with a bolt of lightning? Make him go blind? Deaf maybe? After all, you were just crucified for the sins of all mankind for all time, and this worm of a human, whom you died for, had the gall to say that he didn’t believe?

But how did Jesus respond?

“And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”” John 20:26-27

Not only was there no rebuke, not only was there no reprimand, not only did Jesus reason with Thomas, He gave Thomas exactly what he needed to believe. Now tell me that God has a habit of hammering us into submission.

You know beloved, for as much as we think that God is stubborn, we can be even more. Yet, our Father takes no pleasure in demanding obedience from us, for He did say,

“My son, do not forget my law,
But let your heart keep my commands;
For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you.” Proverbs 3:1-2

He delights not in the actions of our hands, but the willingness of our hearts. He doesn’t want to force us into conforming to His will, but would rather help us see the wonders of His love with our own eyes and then willingly align our will with His.

Yes, sometimes His methods are less than subtle. Even Paul was struck blind while he was on the way to Damascus. But consider the implication if he wasn’t. Would Paul have listened? Would he have stopped his persecution of those who believed in Jesus? Would he have been saved?

So don’t go away thinking that our Father is a tyrannical monster who demands absolute obedience. In fact, remember that through the prophet Isaiah, He said,

““Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.”” Isaiah 1:18

He wants to reason with us, and show us the goodness of His plans. He wants to assure us that when we listen, we are not shortchanging ourselves of the good that we think we can get. Instead, He is trying to convince us that when we listen, we will get even more than what we can imagine. For didn’t Jesus say,

“I come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Beloved child of God, if our Father is nudging you in a certain direction today, He is doing so because He loves you and wants the best for you. You may think that you are going to come up short. But the fact is, He will never allow that to happen. In fact, He is not willing that you merely settle for what you desire because He knows just how much more He can give you.

So the question remains; when you hear Him reasoning with you, will you let Him change your mind?

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