I've been waiting for the day when I can amass just enough spiritual capital to achieve some independence and not have to go begging God for every little thing.
I have envisioned what it would look like: I would have read enough of the great books to be respectable in polite society. I would be over the sleep slump that leaves me stupid with exhaustion. I would have attained enough competence in some skill area to "amount to something." I would possess surplus of purity of heart the way I have stockpiles of paper towels in the pantry, not having to fight for it anew every day in prayer.
I always think it's just around the corner, this restful coasting. In the meantime, I'm constantly desperate for God. "Here comes Andrée again, asking for a clean heart," He must say. Once my son Jae dropped in at the café and watched fascinated as two students prayed at least five minutes before their meal. "God must be looking at His watch," he whispered wryly.
There are precedents to my frustration in the widow of Zarephath tale, and don't think I haven't noted the similarity, being a widow myself. A stranger blows into town and asks for bread. "I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die" (1 Kings 17:12). She is already counting herself dead.
At this point Elijah can, if he wants to, call on Jehovah Jireh to throw open the storerooms of heaven and make it rain fig cakes. But he does not. He promises only, "The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth." Every day she comes down to the kitchen (Is she biting her fingernails?) and there is just a little meal and a little oil, enough for the day.
We like a little more margin than that, thank you very much. But God is not into comfort zones. He dispatches disciples to preach with "no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money" (Luke 9:3). His heavenly caterers send manna enough for the day, but try to scrape up Tuesday's dinner for Wednesday and you'll get maggoty manna for your unbelief (Exodus 16:20). Lesson: God will be as faithful on Wednesday as He was on Tuesday.
David commissioned the far-flung troops of Israel to be counted so he could put his confidence in numbers, and even commander Joab (no paragon of virtue) thought it was a bad idea.
Recently I counted all the essays I have stockpiled over the years. They were a buffer against writer's block, a safety net in case the Lord did not come through, a comfort zone in which the comfort was not having to rely on God. Maggoty, every one-stale and dated. Each one taking hours to write, each one representing time I didn't spend with my kids, they fall under Joshua's condemnation over the rebuilding of Jericho: "At the cost of his firstborn shall he lay its foundations, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates" (Joshua 6:26).
Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8) is merely the crassest illustration of my desire to own the gifts of God as a commodity. Who needs moment-by-moment relationship with God? Just sell me ownership of the Holy Spirit to wield independently of Him. To me be the glory!
I am chastened but happy. Begging God daily is the right place to be. Not to possess anything in myself but to draw the day's grace as the branch draws from the vine-whether bread or essays or purity of heart. Andrew Murray says it was God's intention, in creating the universe, to communicate His attributes to His creatures:
"But this communication was not meant to give created beings something they could possess in themselves, having full charge and access apart from Him. Rather, God as the ever-living, ever-present, ever-acting One, . . . meant that the relationship of His creatures to Himself would be one of unceasing, absolute dependence" (Humility).
In your right mind you wouldn't want it any other way.