Have you ever witnessed a Christmas morning involving children? Children who have been anxiously anticipating the opening of presents since the first autumn leaf hit the ground? It is quite a sight to behold.
At first, everyone is sitting around the Christmas tree with these silly expressions on their faces - kind of like the way sheepdogs gawk at their owners when they’re awaiting the go-ahead to round up the flock. Then, the next moment...WRAPPING PAPER CHAOS.
The tree gets knocked around so many times it’s a wonder it doesn’t topple over, “thank you’s” abound but it’s hard to tell which direction they’re coming from and who they were intended for, and all of a sudden young hands are shockingly armed with scissors, knives and a variety of screwdrivers in attempt to pry open their extremely well-packaged toys. It can be a fun and ecstatic time, and yet an overwhelming, nerve-wracking experience as well.
In what seems like an instant, it’s all over. The floor is covered with paper, ribbons, tags and cardboard, the presents have been gathered into mini-stockpiles, and the bottom branches of the Christmas tree can be seen once again.
And that’s when “it” happens. The moment adults were foreseeing might occur, but hoping would not. At least one child in the room participates in that long and slow sweep of the living room floor, develops a small look of anguish; a slight frown of sadness. And then he or she proceeds to ask the question that makes parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles around the world wince in agony: “Is...there...any...more?”
Now, this young child’s offense can be considered forgivable if prior events have led to this inquiry - perhaps a puppy had entered the room one Christmas past, or a large gift was revealed elsewhere one year due to its size. But still, this kid just received all these presents and he or she is wanting more? Outrageous! Unacceptable! How could anyone be so selfish?
Before we get all bent out of shape, let’s consider something…when was the last time we looked around our own “living room of life” and considered the same question - “Is there any more?” Don’t we often get up in the morning each day and go about our business in one manner or another in a quest for more? More financial stability? More peace of mind? More cool stuff? More adventures? More comfort? More...happiness? This curious and somewhat downcast child, even after receiving many gifts is just saying out loud what most, if not all of us are thinking or working toward on a regular basis: we want more.
Please, don’t get me wrong - I’m not trying to guilt you into feeling bad that you want more. What I’m actually trying to get all of us to consider is the answer to another question, “Why might we want more?”
How come I can wake up in the morning on my comfortable mattress, next to my beloved wife, in my heated home, with my precious children sleeping nearby in their bedrooms - in their own bedrooms - and still feel down? As I lay there and consider my great friends, my good health, my consistent job and income, the beautiful nature around me, along with all the other small things that can make life so grand...why in the world do I sometimes feel uneasy, discouraged, downcast? Why do I get the feeling that there has to be something more...there must be something more that I can gain to get me to the point of complete satisfaction? Is it because I’m selfish? Is it because I haven’t reconciled something from my past? Is it because I’ve filled my life up with the wrong adventures? Am I trying to acquire the wrong things?
According to a recent article in Forbes, there are numerous things people desperately want. A poll that was conducted for this piece found that the the top eight things people desire are, in order: happiness, money, freedom, peace, joy, balance, fulfillment, and confidence. And the interesting thing is, all of these desires of life all circle back to that number one desire at the top of their poll: happiness. If those people who were polled could attain the amount of money, freedom, peace, joy, balance, fulfillment or confidence that they felt they needed, they would supposedly be able to achieve the happiness that they seek.
Well, despite the article’s poll findings, definitions, explanations of challenges and so on, the title of the article is perhaps the most poignant, important aspect of the article itself. It is titled: “The Top 8 Things People Desperately Desire...But Can’t Seem to Attain.” Those polled want more than what they have, we yearn for more than what we have, but we’re having trouble attaining the “more” that we want.
Before moving ahead and attempting to answer the question “Why do we want more?” it must be pointed out that right now there are millions around the world wanting less as well. Less anger, less fighting, less hate, less pain…Less addiction, less depression, less frustration, less guilt… Less sorrow, less sickness, less heartache, less death. Many people’s lives are not comfortable at all - far from it; worlds away from it. And in their longing for fewer troubles, the “more” that they desire can seem meager to those of us who have so much. And pain can weigh someone down so much that they simply can’t conceive of happiness, let alone desire it. But there is still a wanting there, though, even in miserable situations - the want for the anguish to stop.
Whether you find yourselves today in want of more or in want of less, I think we can all agree that we’re not completely satisfied with all life has to offer - or with how much it can take away. I think we can all agree that we’re not fully satisfied with life, one way or another - that we all want something better.
Now more than ever people are extremely, and sometimes intimately aware of our world’s downfalls. In a split second you can find out about a controversy, a scandal, a crime, or a tragedy that has occurred a few miles down the road, or thousands of miles overseas. All you have to do is turn on your television, your radio or your phone and you can be immediately informed of many of our world’s catastrophes. No matter how progressive, how technological, how scientific or how intuitive we have become, mankind keeps making the same horrible mistakes and experiencing the same devastating disasters. Nothing is new under the sun - including our blunders, including our hardships...including our sins.
Such was the case two thousand years ago. The people of Judea were living in confusing and frightening times. Their leader was King Herod, a selfish and cruel tyrant. Their land was under Roman occupation, which meant oppressive social conditions and heavy economic burdens for everyone. Things were changing so fast and so dramatically that there was great concern for the future - if they were even going to have a future.
During one dismal, restless evening among many in the little town of Bethlehem, when hope was seemingly out of reach for most if not all Judeans, four life-changing, hope-fulfilling, universe-shaking words were proclaimed to a handful of lowly shepherds - “Do...not...be...afraid.” An angel of the Lord appeared to these Judean shepherds - not religious leaders, not military generals, and not to members of royalty - but to shepherds, your bottom-of-the-food-chain social outcasts. Why? Because this history-changing announcement was not just for the prestigious, but for the egregious, the commonplace, the downcast..for everyone.
Do not be afraid. Why? For there was born to us that day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Do not be afraid. Why? We have a Savior...who came to Earth to save us from our sin, our fears, and our troubles. Do not be afraid. Why? We have a Savior...who died on the cross, defeated death, and can give us the gift of eternal life. Do not be afraid. Why? We have a Savior...who can provide us with the “more” we need, who can take away the pain we bear, and who can one day give us the gift of the better that we’ve been longing for.
God has set eternity in the hearts of all mankind - this is the reason we ask the question “Is there any more?” This is the reason why we have difficulty attaining satisfaction. This is the reason why the world we live in is not enough. God has set eternity in the hearts of humans...a homesickness for Heaven.
As author C.S. Lewis once eloquently wrote:
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”
This Christmas morning, please understand that there is not one gift that can be found under a tree or in a stocking, and there is not one person who you are going to visit or who is going to visit you that is going to make everything okay; that is going to fulfill you completely. However, there is one named Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, who can.
Is there any more to life? Yes, there is life beyond the grave, if you choose to believe in Him. Is it possible for pain to be healed? Yes, there is healing for all wounds, if you choose to believe in Him. Is the “better” that you seek attainable? Yes, you can find eternal peace and joy, if you choose to believe in Him.
Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, do not be burdened any longer, for a Savior was born unto us, and He is Christ the Lord.