Thursday, December 06, 2007

My Christmas List (Revised)


I was sitting in church with James and Caryn this past Sunday, and during a reading of Psalm 27, I heard a phrase that I had never stopped to ponder. Oh, I have read it many times, to be sure, but it was never so clear. Look at verse 4:

"One thing I have asked of the Lord, that I shall seek. That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple." (NASB)

Notice how it begins: "ONE thing I ask." Only one thing. My list always contains several things. Practical things. Financial things. Family things. Job things. Menial things.

Here is someone who is asking for something with eternal value. His focus is above the stuff of earth, and fixed upon what lies above. I was challenged by this thought: When is the last time my prayer was simply to be in the presence of God? What kind of spiritual life does it take to pray for this ONE THING and nothing else, although I have many needs?

It really hit home on Monday. The moment I stepped out of the airport in CLT, I was greeted by my wife who began to cry on my shoulder. At first, I thought she was just happy to see me. Then she explained that moments before, she had received a call from our daughter, stating that a Sheriff's Deputy had just served her with papers from her ex-husband. It was a summons to appear in court the following Monday to rule on some child support/custody issues. My first thought was of my recent unemployment and how we were going to afford an attorney. I then thought of Christmas, and wondered how we were going to buy any gifts for the kids. Then I heard it. The Voice. He said, "Are you still going to try to ask for that "ONE thing," even though things are rough today?" My reply was, "How?"

You see, we have been struggling financially since 2005, when I broke my arm while wrestling, and then lost my job. We have been playing catch up ever since. Last year, we had NO Christmas for the kids. None. They were OK with it, but Mom and Dad were/are devastated. It seems every time we are close to catching up financially, something comes up. Another expense or emergency that we are not prepared to accommodate.

So, in the midst of the struggles, how can I NOT pray for what we need? In Psalm 27:4, David, who certainly had big problems. was only asking for one thing. The one thing had nothing to do with earthly matters. So, this past week I have been trying to focus on Heavenly matters in the turmoil of the week. Here is the result thus far (not that I was looking for any):

I have received not one, but two lucrative job offers. We have been able to secure an attorney who is willing to work with us financially. And I have a peace in my heart that surpasses understanding. I am reminded of Matthew 6:33: "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and ALL THESE THINGS (not just one thing) will be added to you (emphasis mine). God is so unselfish and giving. I am better at asking and taking, or so it seems.

For a long time, I have questioned the faithfulness of God. The problem was not with God, but with me. He is faithful when I am not. He is loving when I am not. He is there when I am here. He speaks, and I do not listen. He calls but I do not answer. He doesn't change; I do and I have.

I thought I was going to Seattle to have some fun with James. I did, but I was also able to hear God's voice in a Presbyterian church from a pastor who wore an earring.

Needless to say, I have not only revised my Christmas list, but I have scrapped it altogether. I am daily endeavoring to focus on having that one thing and that one thing only. I have been driven to the Lord's presence. I have no more ideas and no more resources. I have nowhere else to turn. I have only to obey and trust by blind faith.

And as Cousin Eddie says, "That's the Gift that keeps on giving...all year long."
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