Southern Indiana Living

NOV-DEC 2018

Southern Indiana Living magazine is the exclusive publication of the region, offering readers a wide range of coverage on the people, places and events that make our area unlike any other. In SIL readers will find beautiful photography, encouraging s

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Page 45 of 48

Nov/Dec 2018 • 46 I f you've already bought your child's Christmas present, do not ask them what they want. You're just setting both of you up for disappointment. Take, for example, the year my parents bought me a dirt bike. We didn't have much money when I was a kid, so this was a huge present. They knew it would absolutely blow my mind. That's why mom felt confident enough to ask me the question you should never ask your child, "If you could have anything you want for Christmas, what would it be?" Surely I would say a dirt bike. What self-respecting, elementary-aged boy liv- ing in the country would say anything else? A motorcycle would have be the an- swer to my wildest dreams. Except it wasn't. I said I wanted a horse. A black horse. She did say I could have anything, right? Why not a horse? I'd watched enough westerns as a kid to know that a horse would be my ticket to adventure, stick with me as a faithful friend and im- press the ladies. What more could I ask for? Even though it's been almost forty years since that conversation I can still re- member the look of crushing disappoint- ment on mom's face. She said something to the effect, "Oh, a horse." One foolish question had completely drained her ex- citement for giving me this incredible gift. But that's what you get for asking. After all, I was a crazy kid. I didn't know what I really wanted. When I walked in on Christmas Eve and saw the motorcycle resting on its kickstand, I flipped out. Of course, this is what I wanted for Christ- mas. I just didn't know it was an option. In reality a horse would have been a terrible gift. We didn't have a barn or anywhere to keep it. I would have had nowhere to ride it, and we couldn't have afforded to care for it. To top it all off, I'd never even been on a horse. I had no idea if I would actually enjoy it. To be honest, unless I was foiling train robbers or cattle rustlers on a regular basis, I would have probably grown bored with a horse within a month. The dirt bike, however, was exactly what I needed. We had plenty of space to ride it, a shed to keep it dry and it was re- ally just a step up from a bicycle, which I'd had plenty of experience riding. Once I jumped on that dirt bike I realized I was born to be wild and spent hours proving it by tearing through the woods and gravel roads near my house. Sometimes that Christmas reminds me of my prayer life. I ask for God things all the time that I probably don't even re- ally want. I fall in love with the idea of a certain prayer request, but God knows the reality would be quite different. So my prayers seem to go unanswered or the answer I get is a big, fat no. Then, some- where down the road, I see what God was up to and it's always way better. I've seen this happen when praying about job op- portunities, houses, relationships and so much more. It's not just that God gives me what I need instead of what I want, though He does, but He also understands what I re- ally want more than I do. He knows me better than I know myself. Other times I don't see what God's up to. My unanswered prayers are pain- ful and confusing, yet, that's when I have to remember who I'm talking to, a God who is infinitely good and who I can al- ways trust to work out things for my good in the end. It's kind of like that first Christmas 2,000 years ago. Nobody wanted a baby in a manger. They wanted a general, a military and political leader who would overthrow the Roman government and restore Israel to freedom and indepen- dence. But God had something better in mind. A Savior. Someone who wouldn't rescue his people from the Romans but from the crippling weight of sin. Some- one who didn't come to carry a sword but to die on a cross. Someone who knows that the deepest desire of our hearts is to love and be loved by God. I'm thankful that God knows what I really want, and loves me enough to give it to me. Maybe that's what the Bible is talking about when it says, "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desires" (Psalm 37:4 NLT). This Christmas I may buy myself a gift, a little plastic horse, to remind me that the things I think I want aren't always all they're cracked up to be and to make me thankful for a God who always gives me the better gift. • Jason Byerly is a writer, pastor, husband and dad who loves the quirky surprises God sends his way every day. You can catch up with Ja- son on his blog at or on Twitter at All I Want For Christmas Everyday Adventures That's why mom felt confident enough to ask me the question you should never ask your child: "If you could have anything you want for Christmas, what would it be?" Image: anakondasp/

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