Have you ever wanted anything so badly that you were willing to “throw all your toys out of the cot” to get it? You may not be familiar with that expression, but my Mom has used it for as long as I can remember to say, “a big fit to get your way.” Now when it comes to your money and that thing that you want is something that you want to buy, it may not take that many toys to get it. But the question remains, how hard will you push to get your way?
Now with a two year old, a four year old and a six year old in my house, I know a little bit about strong will, determination, and a lot about fits. It’s something I work with almost everyday: Training the will of a child to submit to guidance. It is so difficult to stay consistent in this very important lesson of childhood, yet I often think of the end result and that helps me in my daily effort.
One day, my son will be making a decision and will feel the heart of God cautioning him not to choose that path or buy that thing and instead of pushing to get his own way, he will yield. He won’t think of me in that moment, but I think often of him in that moment. For me, that is the true “why” in discipline and training. I’m not just training my children to hear and obey my voice. I’m training them to hear the Holy Spirit and to respond to His voice. If the only thing they learn is to submit to their own will and desires, they will fight the restraint that the voice of God sometimes brings.
In that moment when you are standing in a store, staring at the object of your desire, trying to justify the expense, coming up with all kinds of schemes on how to pay for it, or not bothering to scheme at all and just reasoning that you’ll put it on credit and figure it out later, desire is ruling your heart. It is a tricky moment. I encounter it often :) Unfortunately, I know you do to.
Sometimes, your desire clouds out all the other voices… reason, your budget, the Holy Spirit… and you buy it anyway and try to feel good about your decision. And then sometimes you stand there with that absolute disquiet in your spirit, and you have no idea why. You have the money, you want that item whatever it is, and your spirit is just absolutely saying “No”. Do you yield?
I have learned to, and a lot of it has to do with this story…
When my brother, Brad, was about 5 years old, my Mom, Brad and I were shopping in K-mart. My brother found this “wonderful” toy that he just had to have. He came to my Mom, full of desire, with the toy in hand. My Mom looked at his sweet face of longing and felt that deep groan (that every parent knows) when you realize that there is no way out but tears. She didn’t want to buy the toy and knew she needed some wisdom, so in that moment she just turned to the Lord and asked for it.
“Bradley,” she said to him. “Let’s ask God if He wants you to have that toy.” She took his hand in hers and then just simply prayed, “Holy Spirit, will you show Bradley if he is supposed to get this toy.”
“Now, I want you to go walk around and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and what He is saying to you.” My little five year old brother went traipsing off, toy in hand, to decipher the voice of God, while my Mom prayed like mad, “God, please, if you’ve never spoken before, please speak to my five hear old son!”
After a few moments, he returned. “Mom, I don’t hear anything.” My Mom looked in his little face and in her heart she knew that the Lord was wanting to take this moment to teach Brad a lesson. “Bradley,” she said holding out both her hands, “I want you to give me your toy in this hand. Now in my other hand, I want you to give me your desire.” So, my little five year old brother placed the longed for toy in one hand and then in pretend, placed his desire in her other hand. “Now, why don’t you try asking the Lord again and listening for what he wants to say.”
Brad walked away, but in just a few minutes he was back. A huge smile was spread across his face, and with absolute joy he said, “Mom, God said I’m not supposed to get the toy.” There was peace in that moment. There was sweet release from the hold of desire that comes with hearing the voice of God. Toy laid down, my Mom, brother, and I left the store that day without buying anything. My brother was just so excited to have heard from God. My Mom was just so grateful that God speaks to five year olds. And I had just learned the power of surrendering desire.
So what do you do in that moment of wrestling between the Holy Spirit and your desires?… You walk away. Leave it alone and surrender your desire. God doesn’t always say “No” and if you fear that He will then it will make it very difficult to trust Him. But here is the truth: God always has your very best at heart. He will never turn away from doing you good. And if He is saying “No” then there is an amazing reason that you may never know.
However, I have had times when I yielded to the “No” in my Spirit and had the thing that I wanted go on sale the next week. I have heard “No” and seen the Lord do miracles in giving me the very thing that I was going to buy. But I have also had Him quiet my heart and my desires so that the thing lost it’s lure for me and I was thankful that I didn’t waste my money on it. However, there are also moments when He says “Yes” and then boy is it fun to buy that thing. I always feel like when I have a big “yes” in my spirit like I got the golden stamp of approval and that item is going to last forever. If this is what He has for me, then whoohoo, it is going to be perfect for me and my family.
Obviously, I don’t wrestle over everything I buy. Honestly, that would be miserable and I would probably quit shopping… Ok, no I wouldn’t. But it is in the moments of submission when I have to know how good God’s heart is for me. It is in those moments when my soul is in conflict that I am so glad that my parents taught me obedience so that I can walk away and turn my desires over to the Lord. Now I’m not giving you a free pass if your parents didn’t teach you obedience. After all, it’s never too late to learn, and your heavenly Daddy is a much better teacher anyway. I just want to give you a tool for the next time you are tempted to “throw all your toys out of the cot” to get your own way. Walk away, let go of that desire, and surrender to whatever God has for you. It is always good, even if it doesn’t include the new car, or new throw pillows, or the newest released DVD.
Just like Brad, you may even find a joy in the “No” that you never dreamed was possible. It may be that hearing God’s voice and learning to trust him was the whole point anyway… the toy was just the object lesson. And as you stand there staring at your object lesson, it might help to realize that no matter how big your desire, God’s hands are big enough to hold it… you just have to take the simple step of surrender. Two hands… In the one hand: Lord, do you want me to have this? In the other: Lord, I’m giving you my desire. Powerful stuff. I dare you to try it. Who knows, He may even say “Yes” :)