My 2-year-old, McKenna (pictured above), is not only a constant source of entertainment and joy, she's also a vessel God uses for teaching me.
We're working on potty training at the moment. When she goes, we typically reward her with a piece of candy. (Like a single jelly bean, an M&M, that kind of thing.) A week or two ago, McKenna made a very important discovery - if she was in bed at night and called out that she needed to go potty, I would come and get her.
The night she figured this out, I took McKenna to her bathroom and sat her up on the potty. She was bubbly and chatty, saying all kinds of cute things about books we'd read that day and items she could see around the bathroom. After a minute or so of all-talking-no-peeing, I said, "McKenna, are you all done?" She shook her head. "No. Still going potty." Then she launched into another couple minutes of chatter. I finally said, "Okay, McKenna. Good job trying, but I don't think you need to go. Let's get down." She very emphatically said, "No. Still going." I sighed. "You have one more minute."
A minute later, when she still hadn't gone, I pulled her off the toilet. She instantly began to wail, "But I need to go potty!" I explained in the calmest voice possible that she'd tried to go, that I was very proud of her, and we could try again in the morning. "But I need to go potty!" she yelled again. With a little less patience, I said, "Then you can go in your diaper." She began to sob, "No! I need to go on the potty!"
I finally got her calmed down and back in bed, only to have her emerge from her room about five minutes later. I met her in the hallway, my patience pretty much gone. "McKenna," I said. "You need to go back to bed."
She shook her head and pointed at the bathroom. "I need to go potty."
"No - you need to go to bed. Go in your diaper."
McKenna finally snapped. She threw back her head and bellowed, "But I need CANDY."
It occurred to me, once I'd finally gotten McKenna settled and asleep, that I'm often not so different in my conversations with God. James 4:2-3 says, "You want something but don't get it...You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
My daughter was obviously not motivated by a need to go to the bathroom. She was motivated by wanting out of bed and sugar.
Sometimes when I ask God to bless my writing, to increase my readers, I'm asking because writing is something I do for Him. I want Him to be glorified.
On other days, it's because I'm a fan of royalty checks and nice e-mails from my readers. It's because I'm full of pride and don't want to be seen as a failure. It's because I desire success for me.
While I don't like hearing "no" from God, it's what I need from Him at times. Just like McKenna didn't need to keep taking trips to the bathroom, she needed to go to sleep and get her rest. How awesome to know we're disciplined by a Perfect Parent, one who knows our needs and motivations even when we can't recognize them ourselves.