For a long time I’ve had a little fantasy involving me standing up somewhere to speak to a group. I have often imagined what I would say to a Ladies’ Retreat or some other group if I were asked to give an address. I have multiple topics in my head, but one of my perennial favorites involves a four letter word!! Yep, that is what I’ve always wanted to ‘preach’ about! So far, no one has asked me to get up and speak in front of a group like I had imagined, but I suppose I could use this venue. At the risk of sounding ‘preachy’… let me tell you my thoughts on a particular word with exactly four letters in it.
It’s not a curse word exactly, just like every other word in our language, there is a time and place that it is appropriate. But, I see and hear this word used in one place so often that I think it is a curse. Or at least, a block to blessings. The word is just. That’s it. It doesn’t seem like much, does it? And truly, in and of itself it isn’t a particularly strong word. However, it’s the kind of word that plays on the power of those words it is used between and like a tiny gear in a great machine, it changes the trajectory of our intent when we say it. You see, we so often use this word when we pray. And it instantly limits what we are willing to receive from our Heavenly Father.
In our folly, we think if we ‘just’ ask for this one thing, then we are not asking too much, and we are more likely to receive what we are asking for. But, that is because we are only children, and we don’t realize the whole picture. We have a limited understanding and viewpoint about our world, the universe, and our own lives. Our perspective is so small in scope and we are still learning and growing and we don’t realize how things work together. We don’t realize the power of our own words.
If I ask God to ‘just’ give me one thing… I am limiting Him to my solution to a problem. What if He has another solution? What if it’s something I never thought about? Or something I’ve thought about but had ruled out prematurely? What if His answer, His best answer for me is something completely different than where my mind has wandered? Or, what if His answer is in line with my request, but it’s limited in quantity or quality by my ‘just’? What if I am asking Him for just the next step, when He wants or needs me to see several things at once? What if I ask for Him to help me to ‘just’ get through a rough spot in life? He may have so much more for me during that season than ‘just’ surviving it. He might have so many blessings and even miracles to work through what was meant for evil. He might have a plan for the ashes to turn into beautiful things that I can’t even imagine from where I stand. If I limit Him through my requests, I effectively shut myself off to so many options because of my despair. Then, if He chooses to ‘answer’ me differently than what I am asking for, I might miss out on it. There could be huge, amazing, beautiful things that I blunder right past and never realize or appreciate or experience, because I have my blinders on looking for my ‘just’ one answer.
It’s always bugged me when someone is praying, and they use the word ‘just’ tacked on to the request. It makes me cringe. The person I most dislike hearing it from is myself, since I’ve thought about this a lot. But I still often find myself making this mistake. I know God knows my heart. I know He is anything but punitive and He is gracious beyond my imagination. I also know that He continues to bless me in spite of myself and my shortcomings (which are many, including this one). But what if (yes, there’s that phrase again), what if I were to radically change my prayers so that they did not have limiting language? Would it change Him? No, of course not. But it might change me. It might change my heart, and my openness, and my opportunities because I am open to more of Him. His ways are not my ways. That’s ok. I don’t have to get everything perfectly. I only have to look to Him. He has more for me, for you, for us than we can ever imagine. And not only in the future, but in the now. He has so much He wants to give me, even things that I have not always been open to for one reason or another. So if I can shift my heart a little bit, and begin to listen a little more, perhaps there will be more than ‘just’ what I know to ask for.