Not Exactly What I Asked For

Do you ever get frustrated when people do what you ask them to do “sort of?”

Like the time I asked my husband to leave me $20. because I wouldn’t have time to get to the bank. When I found the $100. bill on the counter, I knew he thought that was “better” than what I’d asked but instead, it left me utterly unable to purchase the coffee and paper at our local shop on my way to work because they don’t accept $100. bills. It was as if he’d left me with nothing.

Or the time he and my son came home with a “better” vacuum cleaner than the one I’d sent them to purchase saying that it was the best wet dry vac that for the money. They were correct. It was more expensive and certainly was a more prestigious model but it lacked several tools necessary for the vacuuming I do in our home and results in much extra work and aggravation whenever I use it. It’s a wonderful vacuum cleaner just not the one I need.

Or, the time I asked my children to do the dishes. I came home to hear how proud they were that they’d finished their schoolwork early and dusted the living room but not having clean dishes set the evening’s schedule behind so that I wasn’t able to prepare the meal I’d had planned and we had to resort to fast food. Again, nice effort but not what I asked for and not what I needed.

It’s always challenging to react to these situations. The people who have done what you asked them to do “sort of,” usually have the best intentions. You can see they’ve made the decision in an effort to please and actually thought they were “improving” on your request. And yet, “better” does not always do the job. In all those circumstances above, it would have been best if they had simply done what I asked them to do.

I do that with God.

He asks me to do some simple thing and I wear myself out trying to give Him something “better.” Then, when I collapse on Him in exhaustion and complain that I can’t keep up with His demands, He shows me that my weariness is about all the stuff I added, not the thing He asked. And then, often, during the discussion, I realize I didn’t even really accomplish the first thing He’d asked.

Oh. Right.

Sometimes, other people pressure us into attempting to go “better.” I felt that God had called me to teach my children at home. Often, well-meaning people would insist that since I have the gift of teaching, wouldn’t it be “better” for me to share that with lots of kids by getting a teaching certificate, working in the public schools, etc.

After years of pressure, I fell prey to this notion and took a job as director of a tutoring agency. I was good at it. I did enjoy it. I did help many children. But, it nearly killed me and was extremely detrimental to our family life. One day, I walked out on what was “better” to finish what God had told me to do.

Oswald Chambers said “It is impossible to get exhausted in work for God. We get exhausted because we try to do God’s work in our own way.”

This phenomenon will crop up in churches around the country this summer as it is especially prevalent among people who direct Vacation Bible Schools. God asks us to reach out to children with His truth and to teach children the Bible. There’s nothing wrong with a huge production around that if it doesn’t kill everyone in the process and leave marriages and friendships gasping for air. Too often though, we end up with a huge production, lots of exhausted people nursing anger and resentments and no child any more Biblically literate then when the summer began.

Oswald Chamber was also fond of saying that it isn’t doing bad things that get in most Christian’s way. It’s doing good things instead of doing what God tells us to do.

This takes a prayerful, minute-by-minute relationship with God to really sort out on a regular basis. It’s easy to start off doing what God asks and then turn it into something we thing will be so much better only to find we’ve left the original request in the dust.

Has this ever happened to you or am I the only one who tries to give God something “better” when really I should just do what He asks? What do you do to stay on track?

Me, I get lost if I don’t keep up steady conversation with God.

I think this is part of what God is getting at when He tells us that “to obey is better than sacrifice.” If I ask you to do the dishes and you work up a sweat mowing the lawn instead, well, that’s kind of nice except it didn’t get the dishes done, did it?

What has God called you to do? Are you doing it? Or are you trying to do something even better? Maybe it’s time to check in.

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    The Conversation

  1. Karen says:

    This is good Lori.

  2. Lynn says:

    I’m a people pleaser…and I hate to disappoint people. I’m learning that sometimes saying “Yes” to what God wants ME to do means saying “No” to what other people think I should be doing. And you’re spot on – as usual – the only way to know when to say yes or no is to stay in constant contact with the One who has called you.

  3. Wow Lori! Great post! So much truth in there!

  4. Good post, Lori. Very true.