Lately I haven’t been able to shake a certain image from my mind. It’s of a heavenly bank, where God’s people come to make transactions. This bank is always open for us to make deposits, passing to the teller all our sins, anxieties, worries and cares. Of course, the vault where those deposits are taken is the throne room of God’s grace.
We can also make withdrawals from this heavenly bank. At the teller window sits the Holy Spirit, ready to dispense any and every resource of heaven. When we step up to that window, we have the ability to withdraw endless reserves of God’s grace, power, faith and hope.
As I envision this bank, I realize many of us in the church make a lot of deposits, but we don’t make nearly as many withdrawals. Instead, when we step up to the window we ask for a pittance. “Lord, I don’t want to bother you,” we stammer, “I just need a little grace to get me through this present problem. If you can just get me going, I can handle the rest.”
I’ve got news for you: God doesn’t want us to “handle the rest.” He wants us to deposit everything to him: all our anxieties, struggles, sins and heartaches. And he wants us to draw on his infinite resources, which are stored up for us in his vaults. He wants us to say, “Lord, I’m through asking for ten dollars’ worth of faith to get me through a problem. I need your grace in denominations of thousands. And I want it not only to solve my problem, but to see your glory established in the earth. From now on, every time I come to this window, I’ll ask for a greater outpouring of your Spirit. I need more of your life, your breath, your movement within me!”
When it comes to the resources of heaven, Zechariah speaks a powerful yet mysterious verse.
“On that day the LORD will defend the people of Jerusalem; the weakest among them will be as mighty as King David! And the royal descendants will be like God, like the angel of the LORD who goes before them!” (Zechariah 12:8).
Zechariah was seeing down through history to our day. Because of Christ’s work for us, even the weakest Christian will be as strong as David, Israel’s greatest king. And the strongest believer will “be like God,” meaning, like Christ. It all sounds outlandish. Yet in this prophecy, God gives us an image of the resources he has made available to his church. The reserves of heaven’s bank are meant to come pouring out on us to his great glory, especially in our trials.
Much of the church has yet to grasp this. When some Christians come to the teller’s window, they stand mute. The Holy Spirit asks them, “What can I do for you?” but they don’t know to ask for the wealth available to them. Instead, they answer, “Lord, just give me whatever you want to. I don’t have any ambition, but you’re sovereign. You can do as you please.”
That may sound humble, even godly, but Scripture suggests this attitude actually frustrates the Holy Spirit. His response is, “What do you mean there’s nothing in your heart? Don’t you see the enemy at work ravaging the lives of people you love? Don’t you see loved ones in fear and bondage who would be set free if only they knew my delivering power? Look around. There are kingdoms to conquer, enemies to slay, demons to cast out!”
Paul tells us to “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts.” That means when we come to the teller window, our request ought to be, “Lord, I have the gift of faith. Could you also give me the gift of evangelism, so I might bring others to faith?” Or, “Lord, you’ve gifted me with prophecy. Please, give me a word today for my sister who’s enduring great pain with no hope.”
One of the greatest lessons my father, David Wilkerson, taught me was, “You can have as much of Jesus as you want.” My message in turn is to say to you: Go to the teller window and ask extravagantly! Be willing to elbow people out of the way if they’re not asking for anything. And when you finally get to the window, turn to those behind you and say, “You might as well settle in. Jesus and I are about to have a long conversation about my finances and all that I’m going to spend it on: my estranged child, my faltering marriage, my brother and sister in need. I must have God’s wealth to be a conduit of his transforming presence in this world!”
The gospels make clear that whatever measure of faith we receive is up to us.
“The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, ‘They have no more wine’” (John 2:1-3).
Have you ever run out of anything? Perhaps patience for your rebellious child? Hope for your marriage? At this wedding in Cana, Jesus’ mother, Mary, saw that the celebration had run out of wine. So she went to Jesus and said, basically, “Do something.”
Jesus’ response sounds a little bizarre: “‘Dear woman, that’s not our problem,’ Jesus replied. ‘My time has not yet come’” (2:4). Mary could have accepted her son’s reply as a firm edict: “Well, it has been sovereignly declared from heaven that wine won’t be multiplied at this wedding.” Instead, she acted like any good Jewish mother — or any other kind of mom, for that matter — and ignored her son’s response. Mary reacted by telling Jesus to get on with it: “His mother told the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you’” (2:5).
Theologically, I’m very big on the sovereignty of God. I believe nothing happens unless he decrees it so. But sometimes God’s sovereign decree is, “I’m leaving this up to you. So be it according to your will, your actions, your faith.” The clear impression from this passage is that Jesus wasn’t going to act on Mary’s request. He even had a solid theological reason for it: “My time has not yet come,” meaning, God hadn’t yet announced his public ministry.
But Mary couldn’t wait on the calendar of heaven. She needed God to move now — and so the calendar moved! “Jesus told the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ When the jars had been filled, he said, ‘Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies’…When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from…he called the bridegroom over. ‘A host always serves the best wine first,’ he said. ‘Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!’” (2:7-10). This wasn’t just “replacement” wine. It was the very best!
A miracle occurred, surpassing even Mary’s expectations. Yet things could have been very different. She might have been discouraged by Jesus’ response. She might have accepted his words at face value, agreeing, “I guess it’s not the right time.” Instead, she made a withdrawal of faith from the heavenly bank when she hadn’t even made a deposit yet. She had asked God for something she wasn’t even supposed to ask for!
What Mary did here occurs time after time throughout Scripture.
In the Old Testament, David was never supposed to enter the holy of holies in the temple. But he did, and his experience resulted in a powerful Psalm that God’s people recite to this day: “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).
Although David went where he wasn’t supposed to go, it caused him to reflect on the amazing revelation of God’s presence on the earth. And David’s words speak prophetically of the New Covenant to be established through Christ. Indeed, he was the first to describe the idea of having intimacy with God before there was any possibility of having intimacy with God.
My point is this: Many saints in the Bible and throughout history have circumvented their bad situations through sheer faith, advancing God’s calendar by their passionate cries to him. No, they didn’t snap their fingers and God jumped up obediently to provide a miracle. Rather, something of their heart-cry something in their brokenness, their faith, their zeal for his kingdom — touched his heart and moved him to act on their behalf.
One of those people was a non-Israelite woman who sought out Jesus to heal her afflicted daughter. “A Gentile woman…came to him, pleading, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely’” (Matthew 15:22). This woman had approached the teller’s window with a big need, her daughter tormented by a demonic spirit. Yet Christ wasn’t stirred to act: “Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away…‘She is bothering us with all her begging’” (15:23).
But the woman stayed and kept bothering them, pressing in with her request, refusing to go away. If you’re familiar with Scripture, you know Jesus told several parables applauding that kind of persistence: “Keep knocking. Keep seeking. Keep asking. God will reward your faith.”
But once again, Christ had a good reason for refusing the request: “(He) said to the woman, ‘I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep — the people of Israel’” (15:24). He was telling her, “God’s agenda for me involves the nation of Israel alone. Only after his people have heard my message will he release the gospel to Gentiles.”
It would have been easy for this woman to give up. But she kept persisting, and finally Jesus told her, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs” (15:26), referring to Israel’s priority over Gentiles. I find her response amazing: “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table” (15:27). She was saying, “Jesus, if we’re talking about the power of heaven, then even a scrap is sufficient.”
She was right: The scraps that fall from God’s table are sufficient to meet any need on this earth. And she had faith that even the smallest measure would deliver her daughter completely. Friend, that is true faith! This woman didn’t go to the teller window timidly. She went firmly believing in God’s goodness, knowing that even the smallest scrap of his glory was worth enough to perform a miraculous deliverance.
What about you? Does the stagnant water of your marriage need to be turned into luscious wine? Do you need a scrap from God’s table to bring healing to your tormented loved one? No matter how great your need, I urge you: Go to the teller window and make a withdrawal. Ask God to supply your situation with his healing, restoring power. If need be, ask him to move up heaven’s calendar for your situation. Then keep asking. He is pleased with your faith — and he will be faithful to make his glory known in your situation, astounding the world.