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Draw Near Enough To Wish

I have learned a lot as a parent. There
are the obvious things, of course: how to sleep train (maybe I
shouldn’t claim that one yet!); how to clip microscopic
toenails; how to make a cat out of playdough. Then there are the
bigger issues: how to be more patient; how to model the
“right” way to get angry; how to forgive an innocent
toddler who accidentally kicks you, hard, in the stomach. And then
of course there are the truly vital facts that I’d never have
learned if I hadn’t become a parent: the color of
Elmo’s mommy’s hair (orange); the name of the Little
Mermaid’s daughter (Melody); the name of Thomas’ best
friend (Percy). Continuing education is part of the parental job
description, and I expect it on a daily basis.

But I never stop being amazed at how much I learn about God, and my
relationship with Him, from observing and interacting with my

Yesterday in church our pastor preached on
a passage of the Bible that talks about praying, and he mentioned
that in this particular passage, the original Greek word for
“pray” was “proseuchomai”. (Stick with me
here, this’ll get good in a minute). The word
“proseuchomai” comes from two different Greek words
– one meaning “to draw close”, as in coming
alongside in a relatively intimate way, tacitly engaging the other
person. And the second word means “to wish”. So put the
words together, and we are being asked to draw close enough to

When our pastor described this, I had an image of a child almost
sidling up to a father, embarrassed with the weight of her request
but desperate enough to overcome that embarrassment, and confident
enough in her father’s love to trust in the kindness of his
answer. I pictured the child shyly pressing her cheek to her
daddy’s, barely able to breathe her hopeful wish in his ear
and nearly trembling with the effort of being brave enough to speak
aloud her heart’s desire.

And I realized I’d actually witnessed this scenario, over and
over again, with my own girls. I can’t count the number of
times Maddie or Cora has crawled into my lap, her voice quiet and
her face still and hopeful as she asks me for something she’s
afraid she won’t get – an extra book at bedtime, a
chance to play in the bathtub by herself, even a new pair of pretty
but wildly impractical shoes – and the more implausible the
request, the quieter and shyer the whisper, as if she knows the
height to which she is daring. And whenever it’s in my power
to grant her that wish I do so – mostly for the purely
selfish wash of joy I feel when I’m able to give her what
she’s reaching for. The times that I have to say
“no” for her own good – staying up past bedtime
on a school night, or turning down a request for a piece of candy
– it saddens me that my hands are tied not by physical
constraints, but by the responsibility I carry to be the best
parent I can be for her. Her joy at having her wish granted is only
a fraction of the joy I feel at fulfilling her dream, and her
frustration at being denied can’t compare to the sadness I
feel knowing I must hurt her at that moment to be a good steward of
her life.

Thinking about this put my prayer life with God in a whole
different perspective. I’m always wary of bringing God my
“shopping list” – my blatant requests for
“stuff”, even if it’s stuff like “Oh, God,
help me lose 10 pounds, start saving more money, and find more time
to read the chick lit books I’m secretly addicted to.”
Not that I am.

But when I think about my real wish list, those secret things I
hold in my heart and don’t dare say aloud for fear of
starting to hope in things that will surely be denied, I know
that’s a grocery list God longs to here – He told us
Himself when he charged us to “draw near enough to
wish”. And if my two-year-old is brave enough and trusting
enough in this imperfect parent to lay it all on the line in the
confiding intimacy of my lap, then certainly I can be brave enough
to whisper my wishes into the ear of our one true perfect Father.
If I strive to say “yes” whenever possible, how much
more will our Father do so? And if I grieve when the answer must be
no, then how much more can I believe that God says “no”
for a good reason?

Go close enough to feel His breath on your cheek. Snuggle in, in
comfort and confidence. Exhale your desires, and trust in His

Draw near enough to wish.


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