The List

by Steven J. Callis

The List.  Have you made yours?  Have you received one from somebody else? The origin of The List is unknown, but it must certainly date back more than a century.  There are even websites today that publish someone’s list to help spread the word.  What is on your Christmas Wish List this year?

Actually, it is helpful and convenient to have someone’s list when preparing to be a gift-giver.  These hints and suggestions make the occasion quite safe; how can I go wrong, giving someone a gift they asked to receive?  On the other hand, I have learned some things about The List that often are overlooked.

For example, if someone gives me something from my list, I may have missed out on something else that I had not considered; something they thought about on my behalf that never crossed my mind.  That was often my Christmas morning experience as a child.  Few, if any of those items from my list found their way to the Christmas tree, but I was always thrilled with my presents on Christmas morning, giving no thought to what I did not receive.  My mom and dad were so good at gift-giving; many times, in fact, I liked their ideas better than what I had listed.

Using the list also has the potential to steal the joy of the occasion.  The giving and receiving of gifts taught me early in life – with the help of mom and dad – to appreciate the giver more than the gift.  Someone chose to gift me, gave thought and consideration to that gift, and then searched until finding exactly what they had in mind for me.  Taking the idea from the 1988 novel, The Alchemist, the journey – that process – is part of the gift.

The List eliminates that process by selecting the specific item, and even allows for ordering it online to save shopping time.  In this manner, The List easily can lead to a sense of obligation rather than joy, and the focus is more about the object given, rather than the source of the gift.

I cannot help but wonder if that idea has been adopted in our prayer life, as well.  Christmas is about God’s gift to us: the Savior, His Son, who brings eternal life.  His giving is always perfect, yet we tend to take our wish lists to Him in prayer, rather than being open to what He wants to give us.  Do we approach Him with a list of demands and expectations, or with open heart and mind, ready to receive?

I heard the story of a little boy who entered a church one weekday to pray.  The pastor noticed the boy and went to ask him what he was praying about.  The boy replied, “I’m not asking God for anything. I just wanted to tell Him hello.”

He knows who you are.  He knows where you are.  He knows what you need. God wants to give you His very best.  Will you let Him?

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