“What do you want for Christmas,” my wife asks me before Christmas. My mind goes blank. What do I need? What do I want? I need to lose (quite) a few pounds. I need to call my parents and my brother more often. I want to slow down and be more present. These aren’t things that fit easily into a stocking.
What material things do I want for Christmas? Well, that’s not any easier because the first things I think of are previous gifts that I haven’t managed to fully enjoy. There’s the mandolin that sees too little practice, the multi-track recorder that hasn’t recorded a single full song, and the journaling Bible that has far too few scribbles and notes in it. There are books on my shelf that still need reading.
I’ve found Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 to be true, that if you seek after the kingdom of God and His righteousness He will take care of you. As disappointing as it may be to the “health and wealth” crowd, it’s not necessarily luxury or extravagance by Western standards, but I’ve got no complaints. The thing is, the more I’m willing to surrender, the less I want to cling onto and the less I want to acquire. If I could have anything, it would be to see His kingdom come, His will be done right here and now as it is in heaven, not just in part but in full.
As I spoke with a man wrestling with the demons of alcoholism, his eyes wet with tears, I wanted nothing more than to grant him sobriety, to instantaneously remove the deep seated desire for the bottle, to remove the many, many years of drinking and the chaos it has wreaked upon his life. I want to grant the same to those shooting up and overdosing in rented rooms, homeless shelter bathrooms, and cold alleyways.
I want to guarantee that my brother’s or my mother’s cancer won’t come back. I want to assure the same for every person that has had to face that uncertainty in their lives. I want to eradicate the need to choose between food and medicine, between paying rent or keeping on the heat. I want every hopeless soul to know that they are extravagantly loved by their Creator, so much so that He came to this earth in flesh and blood and died so they can have full, abundant, and everlasting life.
And so I’m okay with an empty stocking if that means a full life for someone else. As Christmas has passed into a new year, and all the hopes a new year brings with it, this is my prayer–that the words of Isaiah 9 would come to pass in every darkened heart:
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
May it be so!