08 December 2008

One Thing for Christmas

Everyone's asking -- "what's on your Christmas list?"

Even my children are making a list for Santa. I can't help but envy them the simplicity of their lists. I delight in their innocent childhood joy over a doll or stuffed animal or some other toy they're wishing for.

My own heart is filled with less childlike desires, and after careful consideration, I have boiled my "list" down to one thing. One big thing. Only one thing I want for Christmas this year...

I want to stop wanting.

Wanting breeds discontent.

Wanting infects my mind with delusions of inadequacy.

Wanting unsettles my spirit and poisons my heart with "If only..." and "What about me?"

Wanting distorts my vision, or just plain leaves me blind.

(Sure, there's wanting material "things." The seductive lure of STUFF is almost inescapable, and at Christmastime, it's disguised as gift-giving...yikes! But that's way too easy. By now we should all know that "stuff" doesn't fill the hole in our hearts or our lives.)

I'm talking about something much more important, and more difficult to pin down.

I want to stop wanting things to be the way I think they should be.

Stop wanting a different talent than the one I’ve been given.

Stop wanting a different place at the table than where I’ve been seated.

Stop wanting God to work in my life the way I think He should, to accomplish what I’ve decided would be good for me or my family.

Stop wanting more from God instead of more of God.

This is the insidious way the wanting poisons my spirit, my relationships, my view of my life, my response to my heavenly Father. It's a deep, unspoken, almost subconscious expectation I have for my life.

The problem is my desires are self-centered, not God-centered. I secretly want to experience some blessing or ability someone else has… and why shouldn’t I? What’s wrong with me that I can’t have/achieve/receive what that person has? And so, the wanting grows…

Remember the lessons of the potter and the clay? Perhaps the disease of discontent finds its roots there. “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘He did not make me’? Can the pot say of the potter, ‘He knows nothing”? Isaiah 29:16

And again in Romans 9:21… “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”

Mother Teresa has inspired me to make a radical shift in thinking. “He can do with me as it pleaseth Him, without even a thought of consulting me. I just want to be His own little one – if He so wants, otherwise I will be happy to be just nothing and He everything.” Come Be My Light

If God so chooses me to be a lowly pot used only for common, unseen tasks, it is His right. Who am I to demand otherwise? I have no right to expect nobility or applause or credit for myself, if He has chosen commonness for me. He has still given me everything by virtue of grace and the cross. If He gives me nothing else, ever, it must be alright with me. I must be happy to be nothing and He everything.

It is a daring prayer to say, and I’m not at all sure I have the goods to back it up, but I think this is the only wanting that will ever be satisfied.

God, grant me a heart that is empty of myself to the point of being nothing so long as You are everything. Then this disease of discontent, this poison of fruitless longing that leaves me sad and useless will be cured. If I want for anything, let it be more of Jesus.

The child in the manger gave me the ultimate demonstration of this Himself.

The Potter became Himself the lowliest pot and filled Himself with my wretched self-centeredness and sin. This is the unspeakable gift of Christmas! Deep, pure, selfless gratitude to the infant King for humbling Himself for my sake -- this is the joy that is the antidote for the poison, and it’s all I want for Christmas.

©2008 Jennifer Hartline


ConversationsWithACupcake said...

I love this time of year when our hearts turn to thoughts of purifying our lives.

Your desire to not want is beautiful, and very inspiring. I substituted yesterday for an elementary school teacher who's husband is dying of Lou Gherig's (Sp?) disease. He's lost most of his abilities very quickly, it might be another month or another six. In speaking with this lovely, young woman, I was so touched by how much her life was in God's hands. She's just put it there. She's just being patient. She's just watching and waiting and walking His paths.

There is great power in that sort of humility. I left her with a great desire to do just that. Be ready for God to direct. And then follow without question or complaint.

Merry Christmas.

Dirtdartwife said...

To have the immediacy of Mary's fiat in our own hearts.

I appreciate your words of wisdom. I needed to read something like this today. My favorite Aunt in the whole world will be learning if she does in fact have breast cancer next week, and I'm devastated at the thought of losing her right now. So your post was a reminder to me to not want what I want, but to wait to follow the Lord in His plan.

Sandy said...

Well, I just popped over to thank you for your comment on my post...but WOW...that was so beautifully written. What a wonderful desire. I love this post. Challenging. Insightful.


Elizabeth said...

Hi Jennifer, :) First let me say, what a great post!
Thank you for stopping by my blog, and I apologize that it has taken me so long to do the same; I haven't given much time to my blog lately I am afraid; this time of year is always incredibly busy! I hope you and your family have a wonderful week. :) Christmas is almost here!

Sandy said...

Hey girl! You have a surprise on my blog!


Lindsey said...

Hey- you are reading MY mind now :-)

I love your post AND your blog, especially because I am really working on how to teach my kids how to appreciate what God gives us and have a heart for giving to others and I love chocolate!

ConversationsWithACupcake said...

I recieved your very enticing (and exciting) comment today. How lovely of you! Of course you can have my name.

I am Brooke (Ballif) McLay of Colorado Springs. So very, very nice to officially meet you.

And I'm ever so grateful to have found your Christ-centered blog. It is such a gift to read your insights.

May your weekend, your season, your everything continue to be blessed with His love.


(Oh. Recieved word early this morning that the teacher mentioned in the earlier post lost her husband last night. I've thought upon it much today and wept for her and rejoiced for him and just thought you might want to know.)


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