God's Provision is Better Than Chocolate Cake!
My 30 month old granddaughter Amelia (Mila) is the most adorable creature on this planet (no one could convince me otherwise), and my husband and I cannot think of anything we would rather do more than spending time with her. It is for this reason alone that I often let her help me cook. She's still pretty limited in her food preparation skills, and to be honest she's a pretty horrible dietician.
A couple of weeks ago Mila helped me make chocolate cake. Other than a bit of pouring and stirring of the pre-measured ingredients, her main job was to lick the spoon once we finished mixing. But on this day, she used the spoon as a shovel and went straight for the main contents of the bowl. Before I could stop her, she had already consumed a considerable amount of the dwindling cake batter, all the while saying "I need my breakfast, I need my breakfast."
Spiritually speaking, we all have the nutritional instinct of toddlers. By this I mean that we often cannot tell the difference between what truly nourishes our lives (our "breakfast," if you will) and what simply makes us feel good. The apostle Paul puts it this way in Romans 8:26-27 (NRSV):
"The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."
The Greek word for "intercedes" used in the earliest manuscripts of Romans 8:27 comes from an archery term that means "To hit the bullseye on our behalf, for our benefit." This presents an interesting contrast to the word often used to describe sin in the the New Testamant, hamartalos, which literally means "to miss the mark." So in a very real sense, the one who never "missed the mark" by sinning against God is our divine archer, asking God for exactly what we need on our behalf. Romans 8:27 is the only place in the Bible where this specific Greek word is used for intercession. That seems appropriate, because the most skilled archer only needs one arrow to hit the bullseye, every time.
Mila was not very happy with me when I took the cake batter away, and we're not always so happy with God when our prayers are not answered in the ways we would expect or like. But I am so very grateful to serve a God who knows and loves us enough to value our provision over our preference. And what an honor it is to be able to work alongside the Lord, not because God needs our help, but simply because God enjoys our presence.
Click here to read the full chapter of Romans 8.
Click here to read other insights about the concept of intercession as it appears throughout the Bible.
Click here to order a copy of Karen's book, An Anointed Mess: Discovering the Daily Adventure of Grace.