“Hey Mom, don’t you want another dog?” Ryan asked. My twelve-year-old son was convinced that another dog was an essential addition to our menagerie, which already included an elderly dog, two cats, four rabbits, four chickens, three horses (including two wild mustangs), and two show cows, in addition to a small herd of commercial cows. “Absolutely not!” was my quick reply.
As the weeks went by, Ryan continued to push the issue. “We really need a new dog, Mom. Bud needs another dog to play with him.” “Ryan, we do not need a new dog.” “Mom, don’t you want a new dog? Puppies are so cute!” “Ryan, I am feeding enough animals. I’m not buying a dog or any other animal.”
Ryan saw a potential crack in the armor. “What if someone gives us a dog? Can I have a dog if someone gives it to me?” He was relentless, so I finally outlined the only way I’d allow a new dog. “It has to be either a teacup poodle or a chocolate lab, registered, papers included in the gift, and female. It would have to be a puppy, not an older dog who’s been someone else’s problem.” Frankly, I thought the possibility that Ryan could find a dog that met all those criteria was pretty slim. As time went on, he intensified his efforts, and began to look at the newspaper classified ads on a daily basis.
Children are masters at playing their parents against one another, and Ryan was no exception. When Mom said “No,” he took his case to his Father. His Heavenly Father. He began to pray daily for a dog. I reminded him of the guidelines for an acceptable puppy. I assumed he’d mention those guidelines in his prayers.
After several months, I began to feel confident about avoiding a new dog. Ryan was even more certain a puppy was not far away.
One Saturday morning, he went with his 4-H advisor to look at a new show calf. He called me with good news. “Hey, Mom. Mr. Greg has some cute puppies. He says I can have one if you don’t care. Please, Mom. These are so cute!” They weren’t teacup poodles. They weren’t chocolate labs. They weren’t even registered. I was worn out with his pleas, and, amazingly, my resistance evaporated as he pleaded.
“Ryan, this will have to be the ONLY dog. You can’t have another dog if you find one that’s registered.” That was clearly fine with Ryan. “Hooray!” I could hear him telling Mr. Greg the good news. “She says I can have it,” he whispered.
Like all puppies, the new half-Labrador Retriever, half-German Shepherd puppy was a wiggly, furry, bundle of fun. As we played with the puppy later that evening, I asked Ryan about his prayers. “I thought you were praying for a Labrador retriever or a poodle. What happened? Couldn’t you wait for God to send what you’d asked for?” “Oh, Mom, He DID send what I asked for,” Ryan said. “I couldn’t remember all that stuff you said. I just asked God to send me a dog you’d let me have. And He did. Isn’t he a cute puppy?”
I have a tendency to ask God to do what’s best in my situation, and then offer a variety of “suggestions” about how He should accomplish whatever He does. I want to be sure He gets it right. It sounds as silly as it is, doesn’t it? One day, though, I’m going to learn to pray like Ryan. He doesn’t bother to tell God a litany of guidelines, because he trusts God to not only know what’s best, but also to give what’s best.
Is it hard for you to trust God with your needs? With the desires of your heart? Take a lesson from Ryan. Make your request, and then let God do the picking. Ryan would tell you, “God picks good.” Judging by our new puppy, I’m sure He does.