Christmas past for me involved wanting that one big present that would be so amazing, so awesomely impressive that the excitement would carry me through at least until my birthday—maybe even until Easter!
One year the focus of my desire was a big-rig truck that was remote controlled (with a wire running to the steering wheel you held in your hand—this was the 60s, folks) and could be a regular flatbed, a reefer truck or, wait for it…a missile transporting platform that would make GI Joe proud.
Another year the focus of my desire was a race track that had loop-the-loops and criss-crosses and a jump that was so awesome (when you watched the TV advertisements) I just had to have it! The excitement from that one would carry me through until July, but my parents apparently didn’t understand that. Neither of these awesome, life-completing presents ever appeared under our Christmas tree. And I just didn’t understand.
It seemed that somewhere, someone had a different idea of what would be good for John: socks, shirts, modest scaled-down (and less awesomely impressive) versions of the dream gift that had become the ONE thing I wanted—that’s all I wanted, just that ONE thing…. I’d be happy to have only one package under the tree. You could take down my stocking and give me bread and water for Christmas dinner, just give me that one thing.
I learned all the practical realities of Christmas through those years and beyond. Realities of finances and the need to buy gifts for all the kids, not just John and the reality that sometimes what’s best isn’t very exciting even though it’s badly needed. Now I love getting a good pair of socks…but when I was ten, a pair of socks under the tree was the equivalent of a lump of coal in my stocking.
Fast forward forty (or more) years. Now I’ve completely embraced the practical realities of Christmas. I’ve learned the lessons. I’ve had to juggle getting nice gifts for multiple people, manage the finances and demands, and learned that practical realities make it almost impossible to give someone that ONE thing that will be so exciting and life-changing. I’ve become very practical. And, more than anything this Christmas, I want to go back to the way it was when I was ten. I want to want ONE thing again, with the same passionate desire and focus I had back then.
I want one thing. Well, maybe it’s more accurate to say I want to want ONE thing. I’m not sure I’m there yet but I’m working on it. In spiritual terms it’s called indifference; being indifferent to all but ONE thing. It’s a spiritual discipline, it doesn’t happen overnight, it isn’t easy…it takes intentional effort.
What’s the ONE thing? The will of God. I want to want God’s will more than anything else. I want to see His will and desire His will and celebrate His will more than anything else in my life; more than my way, more than “success,” more than popularity, more than acclaim—even more than big-rig or a race track with loop-the-loops. That’s the discipline of indifference. To find the place of indifference is not complacency. It’s not “whatever!” It’s “nothing but” and the passionate pursuit of that ONE thing.
That ONE thing will change your life. Imagine what it would be like to say “God’s will is all I want” and actually mean it! Imagine what it would be like to place all our other desires and demands in submission to God’s will; our health, our wealth, our successes and failures, our spouses, our children, our businesses…our church?
It will change your life. This Christmas I’m praying for ONE thing. I want to want it more and more, but I’m not there yet. I’d like a little indifference, please. You can take down my stocking and give me bread and water for Christmas dinner, but please, Lord, help me want your will more than anything else.