“As you wish.”
Words made popular in the classic tale, “The Princess Bride“. A boy is sick and his loving grandfather stops by to read him the tale of love, adventure, giants and swordsmen. It is a tale that has been passed on for generations. Initially, the boy is hesitant to listen to the story, for what good can come from books? Interruptions and frustrations abound as the grandfather attempts to read. The grandson doesn’t want to simply listen, he desires the story to follow his own plot lines meaning mushy parts are skipped and the antagonist should meet a deadly demise. His impatience and frustration nearly cost him the telling of the entire tale.
I can see glimpses of myself in that character. I want to see the plot lines follow the path that make sense to me. How many of us believing in the happy ending expect every moment of the story to be treated as the end? In actuality, the telling of the tale holds many more twists and turns than just a comfortable solution. When things take a twist, our knee jerk reaction is to say, “You’re telling it wrong.”
At times we believe that if we are praying and have the right motivations, our prayers will be answered according to our desires. However, God is not bound by the good intentions of his people, anymore than an author is bound to the expectations of his readers. That is a good thing. We see in the Scriptures, great prayers, good motivations that went unmet according to the desire of the person. Paul earnestly desired to see the Romans (Romans 1:9-11) as well as for the thorn in his flesh, his physical ailment, to be taken away (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). Jesus prayed that if possible the cup of God’s wrath would be taken away from him (Luke 22:42). Each of these situations brought about a greater good through prayers answered differently than requested.
It’s not that our motivations or desires are bad, it’s that they are limited. Our sense of good cannot see the greatest good. We are limited in scope. What we can be sure of is that God is good (Psalm 34:8), that he gives good things to his people (Matthew 7:11) and that he promises good in all things for those that love him and called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). The good God has for us is far greater than our best intentions and motivations. Sometimes experiencing the greatest good comes through suffering. The very act of suffering makes us better receptors of the grace and goodness of God. The good God has for us benefits not only us, it also benefits and strengthens the faith of God’s people.
Sometimes the chapters in our lives our enjoyable and fast paced. Other times they are drawn out and difficult. Heartbreakingly difficult. Don’t lose hope. The page will turn. It is all part of the story. We do not have the option of skipping chapters, as much as we may plead to at times. Each page develops the story and shows the incredible plan of the divine author.
Just like the sick grandson, the one who humbly engages finds themselves appreciating the tale being told. The long parts teach us humility. Trusting in the sovereignty of God helps us to endure even those inconceivable moments. The story is not done, but we know how it ends.
Therefore, God, keep the pages coming. Help us to be active listeners. You know the end from the beginning. You have it perfectly worked out. May we not rush the story, but learn from what each moment divinely brings. Help us to trust. Help us to see your hand in each page of our lives and may each day bring about a heart that proclaims, “As you wish.”