What You Can't Have
It’s 10:00 in the morning. For what must be the 400th time since he woke up, my one-year-old is wailing in anguish. He looks at me, betrayal red in his teary eyes and makes his displeasure known. I must be a monster, for all the menace his scowl carries.
It’s a game we play often enough.
He wants my phone. I don’t let him have my phone. It’s probably a blog post for another time, but we don’t let our kids play with our phones.
If he can’t have my phone, he wants the TV remote. Or a computer. Or a knife. If it’s expensive, breakable, and/or dangerous, he wants it.
Here’s a little more background. This kid has so many toys, we’re about to have to give him the master bedroom. He’s lacking nothing.
There are toys that make noise, toys that light up, toys that rock and toys that roll. And at least a couple that rock and roll (seriously, he has a car with button that launches into a ear-splitting guitar riff and I have no idea where it came from).
He doesn’t need anything else. He just wants what he can’t have.
As I was complaining about that, the thought hit me: I’m exactly like him.
I have everything I need. In fact, I probably definitely have more than I need. But I rarely, if ever, focus on that. No, it’s way more fun to focus on the one or two things I think I need, and throw myself lavish pity parties when I can’t have them. My pity parties are the best. They make a Gatsby party look like a Narcoleptics Anonymous New Year’s Eve party.
I’ve wasted so much time and energy throwing hissy fits for things I don’t have, and I’ve hardly spent any time being thankful for what I do have. It’s embarrassing.
Unfortunately, I’m not alone. This kind of thinking has led to a lot of problems over the course of human history. All too often, when there’s something we can’t have, it’s not enough to just wallow in our grief and discontent. We take it anyway, sometimes by force.
How many wars might’ve been prevented if a content heart was found in the rulers of the nations?
Or think about King David, who coveted Bathsheba, and rather that being content with what he had (which was considerable) he took her, impregnated her, and killed her husband in a horribly messy affair.
There’s the first, and perhaps most obvious example: the fall of man in Genesis 3. God gave Adam and Eve just about anything their hearts could desire, but told them to stay away from one thing. And what did they do? With a little help from a slithering friend, they went ahead and took the one thing they were explicitly told not to take.
It’s a problem that plagues humans of all circumstances, because it’s deeply rooted in our sinful hearts. We never think we have enough because we always see something else we want but probably can’t have. Now more than ever, with the treasure of social media (hear the sarcasm?) we can see all the neat things other people get to do or have and we decide we should probably do or have the same things.
Because we have like, major issues, man.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” - 1 Timothy 6:6-8
How’s that for a gut punch? We’re all equal. The stuff we see and covet and want are all just distractions from the one true purpose God has given us.
We’re so tempted by everything around us that it’s hard to stop and see what we do have, be content with that, and then move on to fulfilling the Great Commission. You see, God didn’t give us any of our stuff so that we can be thrilled and happy, He gave it to us so we can use it for His glory. So when we chase things around that we don’t have, we’re basically saying that God doesn’t know what He’s doing and that we know of a better way to fulfill His purpose. Except we know we’re just fulfilling our own purposes.
That’s the height of idolatry.
As we approach Easter, that idea weighs heavily on me. Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus gave everything so that we could have everything. That’s the example he set for us. But often, we’re too busy wishing we had that one more thing to consider any sort of sacrifice on our part. But we have been given life. Freedom. Eternity with Christ. We can approach the throne of the Lord almighty! What more could we possibly want?
For me, I need to look around at my life and see the plenty God has given me. I need to soften myself so the cry of my heart will ever be “it is well with my soul.” God has given me everything I could ever need. It’s time to see what He wants me to do with it.
Now, if I could just get my toddler on board...