It’s my birthday week! I will be 42 on Saturday – that sounds so much younger than it used to 😉
My approaching birthday brought the question, “what do you want for your birthday?” As the years go by this question gets harder and harder to answer. Sure, I can think of a few things I’d like to have, but what I want most cannot be bought with money.
I can remember being annoyed that my parents didn’t keep a wish list. I thought they were being martyrs when they said, “please don’t get us anything,” but age brings wisdom and I’m starting to understand. The things that we really want cannot be found in a store – or even on Amazon!
So this got me thinking – this isn’t a new thought. We’ve heard it all from older generations before. There is nothing new under the sun. Sure, we make discoveries, but centuries upon centuries have all brought the same challenges and strivings. Wars have been fought, murders have been committed, and empires have fallen all because of the same desires and subsequent sins.
We are all looking for something and, whether we recognize it or not, it is that which keeps us separated from God. We are all seeking the fruit of a fulfilling life. Not everyone knows where to find it and those of us who do know often forget it. I would be willing to argue that any time there is striving for anything, be it beauty, money, power, or fame, we are truly desiring the fruits.
In case you don’t know them, the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Bonus points if you sang it!) Not only can you not buy these things, but they can’t be manufactured either. You cannot create these things no matter how hard you try. They do not come from within. They are gifts given to us through the Holy Spirit.
Let’s use my own Amazon Wishlist, for example. At the top of my list are 2 standing pencil cases (they are really cute!). I want them because they look happy (joy) and they might help me stay a little more organized with all of my art supplies (self-control). Now, the joy and self-control I may experience by owning these items aren’t actually fruit – they are actually the feelings of happiness and organization.
Also on my list: an Ulta gift card (somebody please get me that!!!) because I’m all about my skin care these days (if I only I had started before I was in my 40s). What am I seeking? I want to just have flawless skin and not be self-conscious of my adult acne and wrinkles. Am I seeking peace? Goodness? Love? Whatever I’m seeking can also send me into vanity if I’m not careful.
I would also really like the Cultural Studies Bible on my wish list. This one will surely give me faithfulness. I mean, it’s a Bible! But what I’m seeking isn’t found in a different version of the printed word, it is found in the Living Word that I already have access too.
Is there anything wrong with wanting pencil cases or better skin or a new Bible? Not at all! But material goods don’t last. And the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control they seem to provide doesn’t last unless it is within me through the Spirit that lives within me.
So, for my family who wants to know what I want for my birthday – I want your support in seeking the Lord. I want you to see Him with me. I want you to know how loved we are by a BIG BIG GOD! I want the joy of the Lord that is sometimes most felt in deep sadness. I want peace in our family because we all know that our battle is not with flesh and blood. I want you to be patient with me when I’m not the best wife or mother because you know Who my heart is turned to. I want you to see me as kind because you see Christ in me. I want good things to happen all around us because we exude Jesus in all aspects of our lives. I want us to be gentle with each other because life can be really hard and we are all just flawed people trying to do our best. I want us to be faithful with ourselves, with each other, with the many material and spiritual gifts we have been given. I want us to stop relying on will power and determination to live out our calling, but to fully rely on the Spirit. That is what you can give me for my birthday!