Bargaining with God

by: Sharie King

My son and I are sitting at the dinner table, frustrated with tear-filled eyes, both wanting to give up. I stare at the second grade addition problem trying to think of another way to explain why the answer hes gotten is incorrect, but he doesnt believe me. Hes cut me off because in his little mind, Im not the teacher." I cant recall how many times in the past ten minutes Ive heard, thats not what the teacher said. I give it one last try, assuring him that because I understand simple arithmetic, I can help him if he is willing to clear his mind and start again. But hes done. Hes sure hes right and his teacher will surely affirm his conclusion.

For the sake of peace and sanity, I walk away, into the kitchen to begin cooking dinner. He is angry with me for not helping him more, but the situation has escalated too much for me to be a source of comfort. He pleads for me to help, and I respond, I will only help you again if you go in your room for ten minutes and cool down. I want you to reset your mind and come back in with clear thoughts. Hes not happy with the instructions, but he obeys, and Im proud of his choice.

Ten minutes later, we sit again. Honestly, Im terrified of another conflict, so I beg for Gods grace to cover my words. I erase the problem (which hes not thrilled about) and we start again. I suddenly hear him say, Oh! Wait, mom! I understand what youre saying now. I thought you meant……That makes sense now. I exhale a giant breath of relief and thank Jesus for a breakthrough.

Why were we having such a hard time? Because Jacob was convinced I didnt know how to do simple arithmetic. He was convinced he was right because his teacher had taught him, and surely good ole mom didnt know what she was talking about. But, because he didnt want to get a big "X" the next day, he was unwilling to let it go because a little part of him wondered if I might be right. But he couldnt hear me until he gave up the notion that he was right and I was not. 

After all was said and done, my sweet son apologized, Mama, thanks for helping me even when I got mad at you. Im sorry.

Even as a second grader, Jacob had a stronger personality than me. But I’ve had to learn as his mother to hold out until hes ready to give up. My goal is not to crush him or take away his passion, but I have to be willing to let the Lord use me (as a parent) to teach him when to struggle through and when to give in. I dont love this job but I know its important because I struggle with being able to do this in my own life.

Have you ever wanted something so bad, prayed for something so long, that you naturally assumed it was Gods will for your life? But then it doesn't happen? Perhaps were not receiving because His answer is No, but we dont want to hear it. We haven't given something to God if we are still trying to make it work. Giving something up means that we pray and walk away. We wait on Him instead of trying to figure out how to "make it happen." Until we let go of the reigns, FOR REAL, we are not really trusting.

When I think about the argument I had with Jacob over his math, Im aware that I often treat God the same way. I present Him with my problem and what I believe to be the correct solution, except the solution Ive come up with is not the one He has in mind. I dont understand because,  "Ive thought this thing out Lord and it makes sense.” And so I spin my wheels, get anxious and apprehensive because Hes not understanding me. But, in actuality, Im not trying to listen or understand Him. 

How much faith are we putting in our Savior’s abilities if we treat His throne as a bargaining table? Our trust is only an act if we bring Him our problems, but instead of accepting His solutions, we hold our own with a clinched fist. 

Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.

My son Jacob is an amazing son, but he has a hard time hearing me when his heart is worked up. In the same way, I have a hard time hearing God when my heart is worked up, so I take comfort in this verse. When my heart is doing crazy things, Jesus can filter through all the mess and find the root of the worry, the diagnosis to my hurt, and He can help me. But its my job to step back, settle myself, choose to trust, and wait for Him to give me advice and direction. This may take awhile, but until I hear from Him, I will remain confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord"so I will be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14)

Im sure each one of us has bargaining chips in our clinched fists. Are there any “deals” you’re trying to make with God that are keeping you from fully trusting Him and receiving His answer to your prayers?

About the Author:  Sharie King was born in Atlanta, GA. She gave her heart to Jesus when she was eleven years old and soon surrendered to ministry at age twelve.

As wife and ministry partner to Clayton King, Sharie has served across the organization in several capacities since 1997, and travels all over the United States speaking at ladies events, churches, colleges and summer camps.

She has written four books, co-authoring two with Clayton: 12 Questions to Ask Before You Marry and The Beauty and the Mystery. She and Clayton also partnered with Lifeway to develop a curriculum for students called True Love Project (a relaunch of True Love Waits) in 2014 as well as her own book 40 Days of Purity for Girls as part of the True Love series.

Sharie and Clayton have two sons, Jacob and Joseph. When she’s not serving, Sharie loves to paint, read and thrives outdoors!

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