“But what if God doesn’t have the movie Bolt at His house in Heaven?” This was Charleston’s panicked question at dinner the other night. The tears welling up in his eyes were evidence of how deeply this concern had been weighing on him. His faith was in the balance; for Charleston, a God who couldn’t provide his movie of choice in eternity just might not be a God worth serving.
Luke and I stifled back giggles as we assured Charleston that God will almost certainly have a copy of Bolt waiting for him in Heaven; after all, there are no tears in Heaven—if Bolt is what’s needed to keep the tears at bay, I’m sure God can make that happen. It seemed pointless to explain to a 3-year-old that the treasures awaiting us in Heaven are so much better than a movie, even one that’s a favorite.
Charleston’s request may seem trivial, but are mine that different? How often do I ask God for something I absolutely need—something I’ve deemed to be in my own best interest and possibly even the Lord’s—without considering that what God has to offer me could be immensely greater? Here I am, begging lifetime access to a subpar cartoon, when God is inviting me to co-direct an epic masterpiece.
My verse for this month reminds me that God has good things—the BEST things—in store for those who put their trust in Him. It’s easy to assume that His definition of best is the same as my own. But just as Charleston can’t imagine Heaven being any better than a string of cartoons, I am incapable of comprehending the truly good gifts the Lord has to offer.
Is God able to give me what I think I want? I believe He is. But I also believe that when I’m asking for what I want, I’m praying too small. I become so distracted by my own superficial desires that I end up relinquishing the wealth of riches that are available when I leave the gift-giving process up to God.
Scripture tells me that God’s top priority for my life is a flourishing relationship with Him. He wants to be primary object of desire, the only “good thing” that I long for. I think it’s natural for me to have earthly, “selfish” dreams and desires too, but ultimately God wants me to desire Him more than I desire the fulfillment of my personal plans. When I desire God, I am giving Him the keys to my car, and He is a much better driver.
Acknowledging God as the Ultimate Reward sometimes feels like I’m settling for less than the best, as though I’m somehow being shortchanged. Perhaps this is because I’ve accepted a watered down relationship. I give in to the myth that says, because I read my Bible and go to church, I know God. But this is the same type of surface-level knowledge that allows me to say I know Santa Claus: I’ve read about Santa, seen him in movies, even visited him at the mall. But I don’t really know Santa. Not in the way that Buddy the Elf knows him—a knowledge founded on conversation, mutual activity, and shared trust. This Buddy the Elf style of knowing is what I want with God, and what He wants with me. And it is this deep, abiding, flourishing, intimate knowledge and relationship with God that is the good gift that’s in store for us as believers.