Grace Notes, By Nancy Kennedy
I like to tell people that every obsession I have is my youngest daughter’s fault. She got me hooked on jewelry, shoes, pedicures, purses, expensive cosmetics — I blame her, only because the alternative is to blame myself.
But the truth is, I was born a wanter. I want this and I want that and I want more.
In an old Seinfeld episode Kramer asks George, “Do you ever yearn?”
George tells him, “Well, not recently. I craved. I crave all the time, constant craving. But I haven’t yearned.”
Do you yearn?
This time of year there’s a lot of wanting and craving and yearning going on. Everybody’s asking, “What do you want for Christmas?”
When it comes to gifts, in my family and circle of friends I have become the person impossible to buy for. If you ask me what I want I will tell you I want nothing. I have everything I want.
Except if I see something shiny and blingy and sparkly I may want it. Oh, and I want a lightweight navy blue cardigan sweater with three-quarter-length sleeves.
And then there’s that thing that has no name. That thing we’re all born wanting whether we realize it or not. That thing that would make us whole and complete, if only we could find it.
I’m writing this the day after going to the mall. That’s one of my favorite holiday activities — going to the mall and sitting on a bench watching people shop, observing a thousand people with a thousand wants.
I’ve given this some thought and I’ve concluded that this thing, this wanting and yearning for that one thing that would bring ultimate satisfaction and end the desire for more is something that’s actually quite good.
I’m not talking about lusting and coveting and wanting another pair of black shoes, but of something else, something deeper, something that’s fundamental and basic, primal.
The Bible talks about all of creation groaning as it waits in anticipation of something greater and grander and more.
In the centuries of silence between the Old and New Testaments, the people of Israel groaned as they waited and wanted and yearned for the One who was promised to come and save them.
At Christmastime, during Advent, we sing, “O come, O come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel” and “Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free.”
Jesus himself said he came so his followers “may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]” (John 10:10, Amplified Bible).
And yet, even though Jesus came to ransom captive Israel and set his people free, those very people — me and you — still want and yearn for more.
If Jesus has come, why do we still want?
Even we who have everything we want or have the ability to get, why do we still long for more, for something else?
A Bible teacher friend of mine once told me that the longing and yearning we feel comes from God.
He pointed to King Solomon who wrote that “God has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy]” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Amplified Bible).
“That’s how you know he exists,” the teacher said. “It’s a gift from him, and it’s good, because it points us to him and to a time when everything will be fixed.”
Even though Jesus has come, even though he has paid the ransom for his people and has set them free from the penalty of sin, even though he has given us life till it overflows, there’s still something that has been left unfulfilled until a later time, and it’s that time that we yearn for, that time when everything will be fixed and restored.
We yearn for the time when everything will be made right and whole and good and perfect, the time of no more wanting and yearning and waiting.
We yearn for Jesus.
At Christmastime, at Advent, today and tomorrow, we yearn for his returning.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.