A New Challenge

Today, the day after Christmas, I remember a writing prompt I gave my students earlier this month.

Make a list of everything you want for Christmas.
My students got right to work, smiling at the ease of the task I had just assigned. Since Christmas was around the corner, they received this simple writing prompt as a gift.
After a few minutes, I asked my students to scan their lists: Can you imagine any of the items on your list still being a part of your everyday life five years from now? Ten years from now? Twenty years from now?
I did not ask these questions to bring judgment, for it is natural to desire and enjoy new things. Rather, I wanted my students to begin identifying the eternal over the temporal.
Then I passed out the following quote from our assigned reading that week. It’s from Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He examines the ploys of marketing and the seductive power of purchasing:
We watch a commercial advertising a new Volvo, and suddenly we feel our life isn’t as content as it once was . . . And so we begin our story of buying a Volvo, only to repeat the story with a new weed eater and then a new home stereo. And this can go on for a lifetime. When the credits roll, we will wonder what we did with our lives, and what was the meaning. (123)

When the credits roll, the stuff we accumulated will, in many ways, tell the story of our lives.

Jesus iterated the same idea when he gave the Sermon on the Mount:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in a steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (New International Version, Matt. 6:19-21)

Where we invest our time and our money will tell the story of our lives.

* * * * *
Remembering my own writing prompt, I have gone back to reread every gift I have listed thus far – the gifts I am counting beyond one thousand. I wanted to see how many of them were something that can break or become outdated, something that moth and rust can destroy.
I found two. (#17 Squishy pillows; # 33 Pavers for a new patio)
I enjoy my squishy pillow. And I am thankful for the new patio my husband built. But I am taking on a new challenge. For the remainder of my one thousands gifts, I want to identify and name the gifts that cannot break or become outdated.
So on this day after Christmas, I am thinking about the gifts I received over the weekend. Which of these gifts will still be around – still be true – five years from now? Ten years from now? Twenty years from now?
These are the gifts I am most thankful for.
88. Watching my children play with their cousins
89. Birthing new traditions
90. Enjoying the day at home, without travel
91. Spending hours and days and weeks to prepare a surprise that will remain a favorite memory
92. Inviting neighbors to be “in” on the surprise
93. Seeing sheer joy in my firstborn
94. Remembering the joy set before Him and the reason He came: To give himself away
95. Recalling the moments this year when we have been called to give ourselves away
96. Hoping for the resurrection promise, the coming of new life, after a certain crucifixion
And, yes, I’ll admit it . . .
97. Watching – with my family – the Green Bay Packers win
What gifts from this Christmas are you most thankful for?
Any gifts that cannot break or become outdated?
While reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I started keeping a list of the things I am thankful for. What are you thankful for today?

3 thoughts on “A New Challenge

  1. Thanks for stopping by mine, Denise. I'm so glad it brought me over to yours. I will have to look over my 1000 list to see how many could be destroyed, and I too will aim to look for the eternal. Thank you.
    I read a book recently called 'Crazy Love' which made the connection between what we buy and how we spend our time, to whether we are choosing God or rejecting Him. Powerful. And definitely fodder for an upcoming blog. 🙂
    Blessings to you.

  2. Bless you for helping your students, and us, to distinguish the eternal from the temporal. Our culture gives us little instruction. Even the church can battle a temptation to concentrate on the temporal, and so your connection to the One Thousand Gifts exercise is illuminating.

    Thanksgiving is probably something we invest, just like time and money. Where we invest our gratitude will probably affect our story, too. Thanks for your vision here. It helps to clear up my own.

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