I still remember seeing their faces and the big cheesy grins that swept from ear to ear. Christian and his friend Chase sat up in their twin beds like little princes with room service menus in hand.
I had brought Christian and his buddy with me to Fort Lauderdale, where I was speaking at a conference that weekend, and had built in some beach time with the boys. As they had reached the grand old age of 10, they had requested a room of their own. After choking down a large laugh, I told them that we would get adjoining rooms, and they would have to leave the door open. After getting them settled, I asked if they wanted to have dinner in their room or in the restaurant. They agreed that room service sounded better. I gave them menus to look at and went to unpack my suitcase.
After a few moments Christian popped his head round the door. “Can I order for Chase and me?” he asked. “I know what to do! Please?”
Christian had been traveling with me since he was six weeks old. I was fairly confident he could handle the task.
“Okay, but if they ask to speak to an adult, I’m right here,” I said.
“Okay!” he cried as he dashed back into the next room.
I could hear the boys chatting away and couldn’t resist listening.
“So you’ve done this before?” Chase asked.
“Hundreds of times,” Christian replied.
“And we don’t need money?” Chase prodded.
“No, dude, it’s like a miracle,” Christian answered. “You just call up and order whatever you want, and they bring it up on a tray and you just sign a piece of paper and that’s it.”
“Wow!” Chase said.
“I know, right? Wow!” Christian echoed.
I waited until I heard the knock on their door and stood in the entranceway that connected our rooms to make sure that whoever was delivering their food saw they were not alone. Christian dutifully signed the check, and I showed the server out. When I turned around, I saw for the first time what they had actually ordered: two large pepperoni pizzas — one for each of them — a pint of ice cream, and a pot of hot chocolate.
“Look at all this, Mom,” Christian announced triumphantly. “And it didn’t cost us a thing!”
I tried not to laugh, but it was a struggle! That night I explained the inner workings of room service to my son and his mesmerized friend. I told them that, yes, there are wonderful things for the asking – and, no, you do not receive it if you do not ask – but there really is no such thing as a free lunch. Christian sighed and asked, “Oh Mom, is this another one of those teaching moments?”
As I reflected on that evening, it both horrified and amused me to think that they could have just gone down the whole menu and ordered everything on there! Instead, they went for good ol’ boy food. Granted, it wasn’t the most nutritious meal, and they both looked distinctly uncomfortable afterward as they lay on top of their beds like beached whales, but boy did we have a good laugh.
I began to think about their order and wondered if, in many ways, we do something similar in our relationship with God. Our heavenly Father offers us so much more than a room-service menu, and His resources are unlimited! But like Christian and his friend, we settle for ordering junk food when that seems appealing while God offers us a bountiful gourmet meal of His presence in every moment of our lives.
Too often we settle for small, temporal things in place of the great, spiritual wealth God wants to give us. No wonder, that right at the end of his first recorded sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives this promise, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks received; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
On first read you might be tempted to think this promise plays into our more self-indulgent side, but when you dig deeper, there is unmined treasure underneath the first pass. What Jesus is promising is a radical transformation in how we think and how we live. I can see the people leaning in when Jesus tells them this on that hillside. When He sat down to teach (an indication to the crowd He was adopting the position of a teaching rabbi), the people drew closer. But what they were about to hear would shock them as much as if Jesus had suddenly yelled in their faces—because His promise to us, like that sermon, is about more. Whatever we ask, He has more in store. What He is about to say will change everything if we understand the promise.
Certainly the people on that hillside didn’t expect what Jesus was going to say that day. He was teaching with authority; they got that. But His words and this promise would blow them away. He would give them comfort and issue a challenge. He would tell them it was the heart that mattered, and then say that because of the heart, we should live higher, with more abandon and passion. He would tell the people that God is not distant or disapproving or disconnected, but a Father who loves to give good gifts to His children. So they should ask and ask and keep on asking.
REMEMBER: GOD WANTS TO GIVE US GOOD GIFTS. HE LOVES YOU.