I have friends who already have their Christmas lights up…in November! The moment they put away their Halloween décor, away they went and found the Christmas lights! Between rumors of toy shortages and everyone having a hard year and a half, most of us are ready for some Christmas joy.
I made the mistake of letting my kids go to the toy section of Walmart the other day. My son, who is six, is walking down the toy aisle with his sisters and he sees the toy. The toy that will make him happy for the rest of his childhood. It was a Batman toy, I think. I remind him that he has almost identical Batman toys at home, and he makes the argument that those toys are boring, they are for babies, and he is practically a man now. He and I are arguing back and forth down the aisle until he sees another toy that captures his interest, and the argument continues, just with the name of another toy inserted. “Mom, you were right about Batman. I don’t need it; I need this.”
We go through this with at least three different toys, each one promising my son that if he could just take that toy home, he would be happy. So, I drag all three kids out of the store and Howard is just losing it and I’m embarrassed.
I waited for him to calm down a little, then I sat him down in the car and told him, “Look, dude, you don’t have a toy shortage problem. You have a toy appetite problem.”
Maybe I was too blunt with my sweet six year old? I didn’t tell him at the time but I struggle with the same thing. I don’t want Batman toys like he does but I reach for things that don’t have the power to satisfy my soul when I’m lonely or angry or sad. I need someone to remind me of my appetite problem from time to time.
Maybe, in your life, you’re longing for the things you can't buy. Maybe your life has some significant unmet expectations. Your job is draining the life out of you, your kids are challenging in ways you’re not equipped for, or your marriage isn’t what you wanted it to be and you’re thinking, “I didn’t sign up for this!”
Maybe this year brought loss to you and your family and so while the rest of the world is eagerly awaiting Christmas, you’re just wanting to just get through it. For you, it’s that life is hard in ways you were never prepared for.
So what do we do when even the happiest time of year isn’t all that happy? Are we even allowed to tell our church friends that even with all the goodness life has to offer we just thought there would be more? Not in a materialistic way or a greedy way. But just that even the best of times are fleeting, and we wish we knew why we feel unsettled.
Have you ever seen those puff things parents give their infants as they learn how to eat solid foods? They are practically flavored air. They dissolve super-fast, so the baby doesn’t choke. Some of them have flavors but if you know what actual food tastes like, they are disappointing. The whole container has like 100 calories so you probably could not survive on them. They are not satisfying, and they are not real food, and they were not made to be.
I think when you and I reach for stuff, status, and relationships to satisfy our souls, it’s like eating those baby puffs as fast as we can and wondering why we are never satisfied.
Friends, what if our dissatisfaction is a God-given gift to remind us that things are not yet as they should be?
That even when our job is going well and our marriage is great and our kids are thriving and our house is clean we Haven’t.Quite.Made.It. Even when we are open-handed with our blessings and pursuing Jesus with everything we have, we still not quite there yet because we were made for more. We were designed for eternity with Jesus and the best this life has to offer is only a foreshadowing of the good things to come.
Things don’t have to be perfect for me to be grateful. I can find contentment in just enough because the best is yet to come.
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death" or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'” (Revelation 21:3-4)
As Christ followers, we are promised that one day all wrongs will be made right. Earth is great and life here has a purpose and is beautiful, but our souls were made for heaven, a place with no death or mourning or pain.
Our souls long for heaven. Even if we were to have the whole world and everything in it we would still hunger for more. As Christ followers, we don’t look to the world and its stuff to satisfy us because we know it doesn’t have the power to do that. Imagine if we viewed all the stuff the world has to offer and all the stuff we already have and said, "This is good. I’m content with what I have. But this doesn’t have the power to satisfy my soul; only Jesus has that power."
Friends, as we enter into the holiday season which is one of gift-giving and gift-buying, what are you truly longing for? Will you find one person you can be completely transparent with about your appetites? Someone who will ask when you don't want to bring it up, and someone who will encourage you to look deeply into your cravings to see the deeper longing for Jesus that is hidden there?