I once heard a story about a young girl and father. It goes like this:
“A young girl was out shopping with her mom when she spotted a shiny pearl necklace in a shiny pink box. She begged her mother for the pearls, and her mother agreed to buy them for her, if she would do some extra chores around the house over the next week. The little girl excited agreed and happily took her pearls home.
The next few days she wore her pearls proudly and would only take them off when it was time to bathe. One night, after her father had finished reading her a bedtime story, he smiled at his daughter, and asked “Do you love me?” The little girl hugged her father and replied “Yes of course, daddy!” Her father responded by asking for her pearls. The little girl loved her pearls so much, and did not want to give them up, so she offered up her favorite stuffed animal instead.
This went on for the next few nights, and each night, the little girl offered up a different favorite toy. After about a week of this, the little girl was sitting on her bed when her father came in to read to her. She was looking down at her hands, with a silent tear rolling down her cheek. Her father asked “What’s the matter?” and she held out her hand, with her pearls in the center. “These are for you,” she said. Her father took the plastic beaded necklace and pulled out a box with a genuine pearl necklace inside. He had had the genuine pearl necklace all along, but he was waiting for his daughter to give up her dime-store stuff so that he could give her the real treasure.”
Perhaps you’ve heard this story before, and even if you haven’t, it’s probably pretty obvious where I’m going with this. Our Father in heaven loves us deeply, and desires to give us wonderful and amazing blessings! However, we often get in the way of this by holding onto our dime-store junk. We think that we’ve earned these good things that we have, and we don’t want to give them up when God asks us to. I know I’ve been in that situation, where the Holy Spirit is tugging at my heart to let something go, to get away from a certain situation, or to flat out walk away from a specific person, and I’ve always found myself reluctant to do so.
For years, I was in a relationship that was emotionally draining, but it kept me happy about half the time. I was in high school and my first when I was dating this boy and I thought that we would spend the rest of our days together. The last nine months of our relationship had been rocky, and God had been speaking to me about getting out of that relationship. Thinking I knew better though, I turned a deaf ear on that still small voice and ended up getting dumped and being crushed. God snatched that boy out of my life without warning, but not long after that, I started dating the man of my dreams who loves, cherishes, and respects me, and we are now happily married.
About a year and a half ago, I started working with kids at a job where I was under-appreciated and under-paid, but the work was straight forward and I enjoyed the group of kids I was working with. After 8 months of working there, I became unhappy and began praying about what I should do. God began to tell me that there was nothing left at that job for me, and that I needed to move on. Without having another job lined up, I put in my notice. Shortly after quitting, I got a job working with children who have autism, which has been so incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.
I tell you these stories as my own testament of God’s goodness and his love for me. My wonderful husband and my great job were truly blessings from above, but how in the world was I ever supposed to receive them if I was caught up in my own mediocre interpretation of happiness? Matthew 7:9-11 says “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
I so desperately want to always remember that God always has my interest at heart, especially when he is asking me to give up things that I’m fond of. I’m not saying that getting rid of something good will always lead to receiving something great, because that’s simply not true. What I am saying though, is that God longs to bless us with beautiful things, and when he asks us to make room for those things, it will be worth it if we listen. Giving up the “good” is the first step to receiving the “great.”