When I was a child, we had a Wish Book in our house. It was a medium-sized, blue, loose-leaf notebook, with the word 'WISH BOOK' written on the cover in my mother's perfect penmanship. Inside it had colored dividers, with a name of one family member on each divider. And each section was filled with a list of 'wants'. From those lists, my mother bought our Christmas and birthday gifts. Or some of them...
I still remember some of my list. At the top was "Baby brother." For much of my childhood, it was what I truly wanted most. I was twelve-years-old when that got checked off my list, and I'm almost certain that it was only because I had it on my wish list that our family grew to six children from four, with not one, but two, baby brothers.
Next on my list was "horse." Yes, I was completely horse-crazy as a girl. I collected horse figurines in all colors and sizes, my most cherished one an antique china shiny brown horse that stood proudly on my cluttered dresser--until the child of my brothers' daily babysitter got into my room and broke it. I was heartbroken, and immediately after that, my dad put a high lock on our bedroom door. But these figurines weren't what I had on my wishlist, no matter how often my mom bought them for me. And,fortunately, by middle school, I had friends who owned horses, and was able to ride often. But there was no way my parents were going to buy me a horse. Instead, they tried to placate me with other pets. I had a couple of turtles for a while. I don't remember liking them very much, and maybe that accounts for the shortness of their lives, because I only have one memory of even caring for them. I also had a guinea pig, inexplicably named Parcheesi after the game. It lived in my bedroom, but I took it out sometimes to stroke and let run around. It expired soon after one of these adventures, when our dog scared it under the furniture. When I picked it up, it was shaking like autumn leaves. I think it died from fright, frankly. Poor thing. We also had a series of cats (all with names starting with the letter O--Oscar, Olive, Onyx), and a Norwegian Elkhound, named 'Brandstock's Silver Mist, and called Misty. I liked the cats, loved the dogs, none of them alleviated the desire for a horse.
Also on my list was 'desk, make-up (with the editorial comment, 'I know you probably won't get me this' written in my childish hand), books, and a variety of clothing items, which got checked off as they appeared in my life.
I'm thinking about this this morning because it's just about the time of year when Beve and I ask our own children for Christmas lists. The girls are always more than equal to the task. J, on the other hand, rarely has anything he really wants. Last night he told me that what he wants for Christmas is underwear and a sweatshirt--his are old and worn. J hates to 'want' things. He really feels like he has more than he needs. So we usually end up in default mode with him--giving him books to add to his overflowing library.
So what do I want? What do you? If I had to make a list, (and my kids wouldn't mind!), I don't know what would be on it. Not much that one could buy in stores, anyway. It isn't that I don't like material things--of course I do. But less than I used to--which is the only direction this road should go. Now, more than ever, it's Kingdom-come things I want.
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength." Philippians 4:12-13
Contentment. The secret of being content? Of not having a long list of wants? Christ's strength. Not on our own, but through Him. When my body is swamped with pain? Content in Him. When I'm overwhelmed with gifts? Content because of His strength, not those things. In all things, all situations, content in Him. Are you content? I think He longs to give us contentment, longs to help us feel at peace with our lot. Not satisfied with the world, not placated by gifts that aren't His, but internally content as we face what He asks us to do, or what the enemy tries to throw at us. We can do this, through Christ who gives us strength.
The older and more mature I grow in Him, the more I want what only comes from His hands. Starting with contentment, the to the marrow of my bones sense that He is over all and in all in my life. Christ's strength=our contentment. What more could we wish for?