What Toys R Us and Bishops Buffet Taught Me About God

When I was a child I used to beg my mother to take us to Toys R Us. To me, it was a beautiful gold mine. A place filled with joy and treasures beyond compare. I would say things to my mom like, “Mom, can we please go, I just want to look, I promise, that’s it.” Of course, we all know, I didn’t just want to “look.” Once I got mom in the store, I’d wield my magic wand of winy child and desperately try to convince her that I did, in fact, need the newest New Kids on the Block coloring book (doesn’t everyone???)

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She, being smarter than a 5th grader knew the trap I was trying to put her into. Therefore, we rarely went to Toys R Us. She’d take us to Walmart instead. She was a smart mother and knew we wouldn’t want anything from there.

I can’t help but think I treat God the same way. Always asking with wrong motives and not understanding why He doesn’t come through for me when all the while, I just want to get what I want, because, well, bottom line, I just want it and in my own self-righteous attitude, I deserve it.

God, please help me land this promotion. Why? So you can get the praise and approval of people? God, bring in more money for us financially. Why, so you can spend it foolishly on more things you don’t need? God, change my spouse. Why? So you don’t have to change?

I constantly have to ask myself, Am I asking with right motives? What is behind this request? Am I being driven by pride, the desire to be seen by others, to have more, to be somebody or to indulge in pure selfishness or am I being driven by love and mercy as I present my requests to God?

When I as a kid, my mom loved eating at Bishops buffet, honestly, for her it wasn’t about the “real food” it was about the coconut cream pie. Quite frankly, I didn’t enjoy eating at Bishops. I’m currently having flashbacks of canned greened beans and funeral salad filling my eyes across that cafeteria style line, but I digress.

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I never asked my mom if we could eat at Bishops, but I knew it was important to her, so when she’d say, lets go to Bishops! (coconut creme pie alert) I’d say, OK mom, we can go there. Even as a child, I had moments when I understood, life isn’t always about me. What seems best for my mom right now is Bishops, so I’ll raise my fork to uncertain green beans and petrified jello salads, because I love my mom.

What if instead of asking God for the things we want, we asked Him what He desires most from us? Then, when He tells us, even though we might not want to do it, we humble ourselves understanding that life isn’t about us, so we submit and go His way, because, quite simply, we love Him and want to please Him?

We might get less of what we want, but we’ll certainly get more of what we need. Which, in the long run, is always best for us.

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” – James 4:3

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