My resolution for this month is to ask God for more specific desires and is taken from Matthew 7:7-8, which says:
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
I am conflicted by this passage specifically because the most straightforward, parsed interpretation (which is my standard initial approach in every case) turns God into something like a vending machine - giving something to anyone who puts enough money into the slots. When I read the words, I am torn somewhat, since I don't see God as that type of being. I believe obedience is rewarded, and I have no problem with the idea that I need to ask, seek and knock - but I do have a problem with the way that this passage is used to justify lots of practices and interpretations with which I disagree strongly.
As I thought about this post, however, something struck me that I had not considered perviously - and it was an eye-opener for me:
When I actually read it again (both verses in conjunction with each other - as two separate statements), it hit me that the parsed meaning does NOT equate to the vending machine analogy. There is a huge difference between that analogy and what the words themselves actually say. I am going to break it down phrase by phrase and show, hopefully, what I mean.
"Ask, and it shall be given you. - For everyone who asketh receiveth."
The first part (verse 7) seems to imply that the person who asks will receive exactly that for which s/he asks. The second part (verse 8), however, is the echo / resolution. It doesn't specify such a direct, one-on-one relationship. Rather, it leaves the receiving open-ended and non-specific. Also, the first says "it" shall be given you (placing the emphasis on the giver); the second turns the emphasis around and says those who ask "receive" (placing the emphasis on the asker accepting whatever it is that is given).
This same re-orientation applies to the other two phrases about seeking and knocking - leaving what will be found and what lies behind the door open and unspecified, and putting the responsibility directly on the seeker and knocker rather than the provider and the opener.
This perspective has been interesting for me to ponder, as it opens all kinds of interesting possibilities for what will be received, found and opened. More than anything else, this has led me to recommit to continuing to ask, seek and knock - even if what is given, uncovered and revealed is not exactly what I expected when I asked, sought and knocked. I need to believe "it" will be right for me, regardless - to believe that God knows me well enough to allow me to receive, find and reveal what will help me personally return to and become like Him and His Son - even if that is slightly or radically different than what he provides for someone else.