Try Some Time
“You can’t always get what you want” (The Rolling Stones, 1969). It was true then. It’s true now. It’s always been true. And it will always be true. There’s nothing wrong with wanting. Just as long as you realize that you can’t always get what you want.
So, Jesus must have been lying when he taught us that “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). For if all things are possible for God, then why can’t I get what I want? After all, “For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.” (Psalm 86:5)
Have we forgotten the rest of the chorus from The Rolling Stones? “But if you try sometime you’ll find, you get what you need.” Love isn’t giving you everything that you want. Love is making sure that you have everything that you need. And yes, with God all things are possible. But not all things are needed. The understanding of, and the living into the difference between these two, is the realm of real, honest, sacrificial love.
We see an example of this in the Old Testament of the Bible. David was a man who went from shepherd, to giant slayer, to king, to adulterer and murderer, back to repentant king. He was called a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).
David desperately wanted to build a house for God, a Temple. For David lived comfortably in a palace and God lived in a tent. Everyone around David told him to go for it, because it was the good and right thing to do. God needed a permanent home. Not just a measly tent. Why wouldn’t David be able to build a house for the Lord? That’s what David wanted.
Well, God had other plans. The building of a house for God wasn’t to be David’s task. That task would be reserved for David’s son, Solomon. David wanted to build a Temple for God, but God had other plans. David couldn’t get what he wanted. But the Lord provided David for all that he ever needed and more.
In fact, God promised David a family. A house of his own, a family lineage of rulers in Israel. A family that would include none other than Jesus himself. For Jesus was born into the house of David in the town of Bethlehem, David’s hometown.
David couldn’t see the big picture. David could only see what was right in front of him. And what was right in front of him was a problem. David had a palace and God had a tent. David wanted to put out this fire by building a house for God.
All of this isn’t a knock-on David. For all of us struggle to see past ourselves. None of us can see the big picture. None of us can see the trajectory of history, as well as the promise of the future, all at the same time. All we can see is the right here, right now.
This is precisely why we all get caught up in a life focused on putting out fires. As opposed to living into all that God has created and gifted us to be. David saw, what he thought was a fire, that needed to be put out. God saw the family of David giving rise to the savior of the world.
David wanted to build a Temple for God. But God knew that David didn’t need to build a Temple. David needed to lead a family that would rule Israel for over four centuries. A family that would include Jesus. Something so much bigger and so much more important than simply building a house for God.
How did David know the difference? How did David know that he didn’t need to build a Temple for God? David made his want to known to God and to the people around him. God let Nathan, a prophet and a long-time friend and advisor to David, know about the plan. Nathan then told David and David then sat before God in prayer to have it confirmed. The short answer is that David had a relationship with God and that is how he knew that he didn’t need to build God a Temple.
How about you? Is there something that you want to do for God? Build a church, write a book, start a family, become a missionary, etc.? Have you let your want to be known to God and to the others in your life? Are you listening for a word from God? Have you checked in with the creator of all things, to see if your one thing is a part of the plan for you? You can’t always get what you want. But if you try some time, you’ll find you get what you need!