I Asked the Lord that I Might Grow

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;

Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way,

As almost drove me to despair.

-John Newton 

more faith.  more love.  more grace. more patience.  more wisdom.  more self-control.  all of these requests have rumbled around inside my heart and mind over the last days, weeks, years. and these, unlike many other requests i have made, i am confident honor the lord.  he delights when we ask for more faith, more patience, more self control. when we ask to know and understand more of his salvation of us, his sacrifice for us, it must bring him joy.  and i ask for these things, because they are the desire of my heart.  they are not the desire of the part of my heart that is still prone toward sin, that still is acquainted with folly and selfish indulgence.  but they are the desire of the part of my heart that is inclined toward God because he so inclined it.  and how i desire these things so very greatly.

but, and maybe i am alone in this, i often pray for these things as if i expect that God will super-impose them into my heart on demand.  more faith? 'boom'.  more love?  'bam'. more wisdom?  'voila'  more patience for your toddler?  'why of course, here you go'.  more humility toward your husband? 'and would you like fries with that?'

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

and i am sure that sometimes he does work like that, just granting us more of fruits of his spirit. however, i am noticing more and more, that when i ask for these things, and when God's answer is yes, as it always is to those things which please him, it usually means that he is going to bring about circumstances that grow them in me.  how does fruit end up on a tree?  has anyone ever noticed?  because i, in my very little knowledge of trees, have observed that it must grow.  it must start off small, it must go through a process, it must overcome obstacles. it must grow.  i have never seen fruit appear on a tree.  (again, obviously he can and does grant us these things when he deems that it should be so).

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith."

you want more faith.  i grant that you will struggle and circumstances will not be what you had expected.  and i will grow faith in you

you want more love.  i grant that your heart will expand in ways, though sometimes painful, that i will use to grow love in you.

you desire more grace.  i will show you how my grace is sufficient by removing everything else that you think is.  this will be very difficult.  and i will grow grace in you.

you ask for more patience.  i will allow your toddler, your students, your life, your family, to stretch you so very far until you are at your wit's end, and by those means, i will grow my patience in you.

you seek to have more wisdom.  i will bring about situations which bring you to your knees because you are at the end of yourself and your ability to reason.  and then i will grow more wisdom in you.

more self-control.  i will show you how very little you control yourself.  i will make you acquainted with the most evil portions of your heart and allow that knowledge to undo you. and by this, i will grow self-control in you.

you want to know more of salvation.  you want to know more of what i have wrought by my life, death and resurrection.  i will allow you to come face to face with yourself at your most rotten core so that you may see that from which i have rescued you.  so that you may truly glory in your redeemer with freedom.

"These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me."

grant oh lord that i should grow, and truly grow, by whatever means you deem right and holy and appropriate.  that i may find my all in thee.