There’s this story in the Bible about the earliest years of the people of Israel. They had the World-Maker protecting them, providing for them; they were recovering from their past as slaves, thriving and conquering.

They had walked through a split sea and seen God come to guide them as a pillar of fire, had begged to know His presence, and He had given it to them.

With the world and power of the heavens in their laps, the people of Israel looked around at all of the other nations and said, “Wait. We want a king, too. A real one.”

They wanted to trade the Creator for the created.

God told them no, that they didn’t understand what they were asking for., and that it would ruin them. But they kept asking, ceaselessly. 

For the longest time, I thought I related more to God than Israel in this story. I could imagine Him throwing his hands up and looking around in shock —

“But you know Me,” He would’ve said, “I have always come through. I have done the immeasurably more. Look at all we have been through and how far I have carried you. Am I not enough? After all this time?”

Yeah. I got that. Those questions followed me through my childhood and into my early twenties.

But in the end, He gives Israel exactly what they’re asking for.

Even now, I can still recount all of the prayers God never answered better than I can remember all the times He showed up. 

It took some time, but I have finally realized that in the story where Israel asks God for a king, I’m not God—I’m the one asking for a counterfeit.

I’m the one who doesn’t choose God back.

I’m the one who looks at what He’s offering and tells Him that it’s good, but not enough. I’m the one who asks for a king, instead.

Sometimes He doesn’t give us the things we ask for because He wants our full attention, and other times He does give us things because He knows we won’t move on until we see what God already saw in the first place.

Sometimes He’ll give us what we want, just to gently show us that it’s not what we needed – that nothing in this world can really satisfy like He does.

mark 8:36
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