Posted by: William | December 12, 2007

Still Not Satisfied

            In my family, the commercial aspect of Christmas has always been pretty well unattended to. For me and my two sisters, seventy-five dollars was about as much as my parents would spend on each of us for gifts, then we’d also usually get a bunch of little things (from the dollar store I suspect); you know, just so there was stuff to open on Christmas morning. Well, to a youngster, this can seem somewhat traumatic—especially when all of your friends are getting gaming systems and CD players (it took a while before we finally got either of those). It was never because my family was financially strained. In fact, I presume growing up we had more money than my parents let on, but that’s not really the point. The point is my parents didn’t make a big deal about gifts, and regardless of how much we fussed and moaned they just wouldn’t do it. Well, as I’ve grown up, it has turned out to be good trauma; my parents did us a favor.

As I was reading today in my book, The Sinfulness of Sin by Ralph Venning, he said something strikingly well articulated. Mr. Venning writes, “take riches here for the present, while they are at their best; the pains of getting, the cares of keeping, and the fear of losing, eat out the comfort of having.” That’s part of the way I felt about my old car. I had a 2003 Honda CR-V. Great car. But I spent so much time working to pay for it, and worrying about breaking it, that it made it difficult to really enjoy having it.

Mr. Venning also writes, “A man’s aim is satisfaction, but the eye is never satisfied with seeing nor the ear with hearing (Ecclesiastes 1:8). Now if these things cannot satisfy the senses, much less can they satisfy the souls of men.” During this season, I wonder what it would look like if we really abandoned the commercial holiday of Christmas (in our hearts) and embraced what the day is really supposed to be marking. Next year, we will be unsatisfied again. Even after chasing this year’s satisfaction. Then the year after that, it’ll be the same story. I, for myself, truly want to abandon that forever. How can the church be taken seriously when even we, by our actions, are teaching our kids and families to crave the best presents? I mean, we’re not just taking about December 25th. We’re taking about the birth of God in the flesh, savior to mankind, the great I AM! How could we still be tapping our foot in anticipation of a Nintendo underneath that wrapping paper?

Please, don’t get me wrong, in many ways I’m a great transgressor of what I speak of here. But I wish so much for us, me included, to abandon those materialistic ways and instead cling to God in new ways, for deeper satisfaction and for a greater degree of His glory!

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Responses

  1. Hmmm, interesting. I will be posting sometime today a similar piece I’ve been working in parallel-ish… with some of the same thoughts and questions.

  2. good word….I loved to get my children lots of presents for the day folks celebrate the birth of Christ and for their birthdays..making everything so colorful and festive..I thought that this sort of thing helped make for grreat memories of everyone warm and close giving and recieveing…when our marraige began to flounder during a time when I was having to heal of my traumatic childhood/teens..the children and I moved 1000 miles away to be near my parents so that they could help me get through what I was remembering. Money was tight and I took the children to eat part of the week at the soup kitchen,I didn’t want them to be afraid of people just because they were scruffy or a little tetched.. I loved having the opportunity to encourage someone who seemed especially down…play some songs..fold the clothes and organize the free stuff so that others could feel like they were ‘shopping’ instead of digging through piles of old stuff.(of course I benefitted from this as well) When it began to get colder as in the early fall..2 different times I heard the Holy Spirit say ….,ask her where she is sleeping tonight…as I stood gazing at an older woman who looked somewhat disassociated and neglected…I’ll show you she said and I took her to the place between two buildings where she directed..pulled out her shopping cart of tumbled stuff..and my heart fell…no you are not!…you are coming home with me ,it’s only a couch but it’s comfy..we are going to get your life back honey.Her name was /is Pauline…God used to say to me on long prayer walks,when I didn’t have a place to lay my head, remember the Perils of Pauline( a film title,classic)but more currently to me this meant that He was allowing me to taste the life of so many people who spend all their days..looking into the warm windows of families as they trudge through the cold..for whatever reason.Pauline was saved from this life and yrs later when I became lovesick for the lost and for a time wondered if i would find my way back into a life that was,perhaps more preferable,with comforts and a warmbed and pillow..He would say we’re almost done with this..you really have shared in their suffering now..just as you helped to rescue Pauline, I will rescue you….Somehow God gave me favor with her and with the trust she’d begun to have in my intentions,I began to be able to help her see where she had lost her sensibilities and then her life because of unforgiveness for great injustices done to her…the most obvious clue was how she would sit out on the back porch to have a smoke and rail and argue with unseen voices..demons ..tortuers were tormenting her..the truth and agape love set her free..it was an eye-opening lesson in the difficulty some have in reentering society…of getting landlords to give her another chance etc…she was great with children and I’d begun to give her small tasks to do.I even let her watch the little ones one evening so I could go secretly shopping for their Christmas gifts…something really shifted when I was willing to trust her with my babies..I saw it on her face in her demeanor her stance,everything brightened up…it was like falling off a log,helping her,I wish that God’s people at least would not be so afraid to extend that hand…This experiance as Cristmas was approaching is a sweet memory to me…partially because I was free to make this decision to help someone in this way..not something my wasband (husband,former)would have tolerated for a minute…I can still remember him asking mea few years later…where is the other silver feather barrette I had made for you thatI sent you for your birthday right before that christmas (nov.17)when we got back together in 91? well..I only needed one and now that Pauline could keep her long hair clean and brushed I wanted to make her feel as important as me on my birthday..afterall a feather has always represented freedom to soar above all the petty and unpleasant things of life through belonging to Jesus…and she was a believer all along who just needed alittle hand…they say that giftgiving is a ‘love language’…a way some have of showing others love in a way that can be referred to that is tangible and helps us to remember that others do think of us…anyway by Christmas I’d managed to …with the help of the poor community who frequented the soup kitchen who’d given up on her,some were family(biological)and alot of patient follow up..SSI..she made it…I’d see her pushing baby carriages for folks who payed her..strong and hardy grinning from ear to ear,staying on top of the responsibilities…6 yrs later as I was passing through the area on a prayer walk I went into a beautifully remodeled building where folks had tea/food/ talk and there she was beaming..sound and still sane,introducing me to her friend..having a life that was meaningful to her and made sense to me…this is the kind of gifts I wish I could give all the time… Today,I have to respect the wishes of my family members who share the expenses now that I have a home again..and so I do not have a needy guest on my couch…but Pauline was the real gift for me that Christmas (besides Jesus),if there was another I do not remember.

  3. ya know…I think I’ve finally realized that with this blogging that I can leave you a short…ahem…comment,as in sound bite…and then direct you to what you’ve inspired me to write..I’m a litttle slow…the sister, Emily showed me that (above)..and her name has opened my eyes to see that though I am not caring for a stranger in my home,one of my daughter’s girlfriends,Emily, stays with us for afew days of every week during a rough time she is having…though she is not poor and destitute..she is needy..I must remember not to bemoan the loss of what I’ve known to be a way to give from the abundance that I’ve been given ,simply because the format has changed…and God is determined to keep me flexible and ever growing in my ability to be useful in the kingdom,for His name sake.He gives us the desires of our heart ..when those are His desires for us as well.


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