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The Gimme-Gimme’s

The Gimme-Gimme’s

We have three dogs, as different in personality as our three kids. I (Sarah) grew up with a family who always had lots and lots of animals so I think it’s genetic. We also have two cats, a bird, a bunny and a hamster that refuses to live in his cage and is somewhere in the garage at this point.

Our dogs are beggars. Yes, it is completely our fault. But the dogs are so used to getting their treats that they expect treats all day long. I often will give them each a thin rawhide bone to stay occupied for a while. So each morning, they stare at me waiting to see if I will walk towards the correct cabinet. If I make a move, they are all up and instantly staring at me, wagging their tails. Gimme! Gimme!

Our dogs expect to be fed, given treats and that is the extent of the relationship. Yes, they can give love and licks and snuggles in return, but they have limits to the amount they can give back in a relationship.

I look at my dogs sometimes, all staring up at me waiting for me to give them something and I can’t help but realize that is how so many of us behave with God.

We look to God for blessings.

We look to God to give us what we want.

Gimme! Gimme!

Sometimes He brings amazing blessings. But because He is far more interested in our inner hearts and character, sometimes He says, “No.” He knows what is best, He knows that what we want isn’t always good for us. He knows.

Our family has been in a very long season of “No’s.” Years, in fact. While there have been great blessings as we have bonded and spent time together as a family, it has been very hard to knock on so many doors that stay firmly and resolutely shut.

It has not been easy. And learning to have faith and trust in the midst of that has been a climb. But even though we can look back and see the many, many closed doors, it’s also clear the amount of growth that we have all gone through.

When we live out faith in front of our kids, it makes an impact. They watch us to see how we handle closed doors. Do we handle it as people of faith? Or like the rest of the world?

If I stopped giving treats to my dogs, they would eventually stop begging for them. They would turn away and go lay down and not even ask. Many Christians respond that way when God says “No” to them. They stop asking. They stop seeking. They stop looking for Him. And they often take matters into their own hands and walk away.

When God says “No” another question is also being asked: “Will you trust me anyway?” Our family has been asked that for four long years. Will you trust me anyway? Our answer has been “Yes.” There is no other answer when you have seen and tasted of God. But it’s been a hard, hard journey. Full of tears and sorrow and utter weariness. And yet like most valleys, it’s where those roots go deep, reaching for the water of life.

God does say “No” to us. It’s inevitable. Learning to handle those “no’s” as people of faith is as important a lesson to model for your kids as any other. Maybe even more so. Because it’s easy to trust God when you have everything you need or want. The real test of faith happens when what we want – and what He wants for us – are different.

So ask, seek and knock. But don’t stop or turn away if God lets the door remain shut. He might be saying no, but he always – always – has a better way.

By: Jeff and Sarah Sumpolec have been married for 19 years and Jeff has been a therapist in private practice for more than 10 years. They have three daughters together and Sarah writes for and speaks to teens. Visit them

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