“If you had three wishes, what you would wish for?” Ian asked me the other day. He was quick to inform me that HE would wish for … wait for it … ANOTHER THREE WISHES! Do you remember the first time you figured that out? Do you remember how impossibly clever you found yourself?
I thought for a moment. The truth is, my unthankful self wishes for little trivialities all the time (a better camera! an iPad! pretty clothes!). But these three wishes, of course, would have to matter. Little pitchers have big ears.
My thoughts spooled out in halting, rambling words, then, as I tried to explain to my nine year old why this question, one which I formerly loved to entertain as much as he does now, had become so complicated. The fact was, I couldn’t think of a single worthy wish that I could imagine granted without complications and regret.
For example. My first thought was, of course, that my dad would be healed from ALS. That somehow, eight years of slowly intensified suffering would be magically reversed, and he’d walk and talk and breathe again with ease.
Through my mind flashed a quick litany of all the blessings the Lord has brought into his life and ours over the past eight years, many as a direct result of the illness. (I don’t like to say “HIS” illness, as if he owns it.) Because of the ALS, he retired from his pediatric practice in order to use his remaining time serving God full-time. When he did so, he wrote a letter to his hundreds of patients that touched many, many hearts. Since then, he has shared the gospel, including his personal testimony, with folks from all walks of life, including many college students who were wondering about the purpose of their existence. Most dramatically, his testimony had a direct effect on his doctor, who, when she herself fell victim to ALS (yes, freakish, I know), confided in him. Although her husband and two young children had been believers for years, it was ultimately my dad who led this former atheist to pray, receive Jesus as her Savior, and find the ultimate meaning in her life just months before she died.
Furthermore, our family has been blessed abundantly with care from people all over the country, including a few who have moved from states away specifically to help take care of Dad. Our hearts and home have expanded to encompass them. We have learned to be less self-sufficient and more interdependent. And the Lord only knows how much more poignant those lessons have been for my dad – and how sustaining His presence has been in moments of suffering.
So. It’s complicated. Would I wish it all away – the package along with its wrappings?
Or here’s another one. I could wish that the Professor (my husband) had already been provided with a job that matched his qualifications and desire – one commensurate with the degree for which he labored for so long. Like, a real Professor job. With a real Professor salary. Or at least, that we knew WHEN that would happen, and WHERE we would be in a few months, or a year.
What if God has a place marked out for us, a place where we can serve Him as a family, a place where Tim can flourish professionally and where we’re knit in to a community? And what if having our answer RIGHT NOW meant not having His best? What if there’s more He needs to teach us in the waiting process? You don’t know how many times I tell Him, “OK! I’ve learned! Shall we move on now?” So far, the answer is always, “Not yet.” I'm like the kid in the back seat: "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"
So. It’s complicated – although in this latter situation, the personal cost is far less painful. But still, would I rashly have my wish, with nary a backward glance?
Maybe I’d better stick with wishing for an iPad after all. Either that, or leave the wishing to those clever enough to ask for a lifetime supply of three more wishes.