Repetitive Guidance
By Anthony Casperson

Earlier this week, I was watching a Twitch streamer begin a new playthrough of a video game that he said was his favorite of all time. One of the members of chat mentioned something about having a guide for the game. This particular game has a lot of hidden items, including possible party members. Unless he wanted to wander around for hours, accomplishing nothing as he searched for something he knew was “around here somewhere,” he’d need the help.

The streamer laughed as he held up his well-loved game guide. Several layers of tape covered the binding. Time after time, he’d sought the answers of the book. You could tell just by looking at the front of it. Even though he’d experienced the game multiple times for over 20 years, he didn’t want to miss out on anything that the game would offer him in this playthrough.

I understand the desire to get everything out of a game that you can. It’s part of the reason why I often look at game guides myself. Knowing that there’s something with all of the answers that can empower you to accomplish what you’re doing makes you want to turn to it time and again, just to make sure you’re not missing something.

And, as long as the guide comes from a reliable source, your returned visits to it yield unfaltering help. You can trust that the provided counsel won’t steer you into problems. More than once, I’ve seen a guide mention that a particular NPC is important for a later quest, so don’t mess with them…unless you want to fail that quest before it even starts.

But game guides are not the only place that we can return again and again to find what we seek. As Jesus nears the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, he tells his audience (in Matthew 7:7-12) to approach God in a similar fashion.

He calls us to ask, seek, and knock. And in return, it will be given, found, and opened. The three commands are given in a particular type of verb tense that indicates a continual action. We’re to ask, and ask again, and ask again. There should be no end to our seeking. Our knuckles rapping in unceasing rhythm.

Often, when looking at these verses, we’re told to keep asking until we finally get what we seek (as long as it falls in line with God’s will). The proverbial squeaky wheel getting its oil. And this is a good starting point because it reminds us of our perpetual reliance on God for all of our needs. However, the continual nature of the verbs reveals further implications.

We shouldn’t stop asking, seeking, and knocking once we get an answer. Once God has given, there are so many more new provisions to ask for, seek out, and knock after. If all of the answers are in the game guide, I’m not going to stop looking once I find a single answer. I’m going to want to look for what else is there if I just look.

God’s provision isn’t hard work, as if we need to nag him until he finally huffs and gives in to us. He offers his goodness to we who are his. He enjoys giving answers, providing for us, and opening the doors. The joy he reveals to us should empower us to ask another question, seek another provision, and knock on another closed door. He wants to provide, so why would we choose to miss out on his gifts?

Jesus uses an example of an earthly father giving what his son asks of him. While a number of human beings might have some less-than-stellar records in provision, for the most part, if a person we love comes to us and asks us for something, we’ll help as best as we can.

Certainly, we won’t try to trick the person into thinking that we’re giving them what they want, only to find out later that we fooled them. We’re not going to find a somewhat oval-shaped stone and paint it white, if someone asks us for and egg. And if we wouldn’t think of doing such a thing to a person we love, why would we think that God would do anything like that to we who are loved by him?

God is a loving provider who enjoys giving to his people. Even when we’re dealing with difficult times in our lives, he gives us the strength to continue on. We should never quit asking, seeking, or knocking. He will provide.

Sometimes God’s provision even comes from his people. We’re able to help give to those who ask, seek, and knock. We can be the answer to a desperate prayer, the provision that is sought, and the one who opens the door. God, as our example, often uses his people to provide for others.

Matthew 7:12 is often seen as its own separate thought, but I can’t help but notice that there’s a connector in the verse to the preceding verses. Since God loves to give to those who ask him, we should do to others what we’d have done for us. If we desire answers from God, should we not be willing to be an answer for others from God?

There are many needs in our lives, especially in this current crisis. Let us keep asking God for answers. Let us seek provision after provision from the God who enjoys giving. But also, let us open the door for others, like we’d wish our own doors would be opened.

God provides if we ask. Let’s act in line with him.