You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!
One of my favorite holiday movies is the 1983 film “A Christmas Story.” The plot of this iconic film follows Ralphie, a young boy whose childhood will be complete once he acquires an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. Letting his desire be known to anyone who will listen, Ralphie's longing is repeatedly assailed by responsible adults all around: “You’ll shoot your eye out!”
Christmas morning finds Ralphie surrounded by tinsel, wrapping paper, and enough toys to fill the local five-and-dime. His disappointment is evident, however, as he looks around the tree one more time in vain for a long gun-barrel-shaped present that surely Santa remembered to bring.
Unfulfilled longings. We can be surrounded by so much, yet still feel that if we just had that one other “thing,” our lives would be complete. Our longings take the shape of many forms: a spouse, a different spouse, a more satisfying job, a dream home, a quiver full of well-behaved children, recognition, esteem. We are not alone in our discontentment. When Adam and Eve were confronted with their lack, they succumbed to the temptation to seek fulfillment through what they did not have. And we have followed suit, seeking authority over our lives and circumstances. We strive to control our destinies, working tirelessly to have all of our heart’s desires fulfilled.
Having it all, however, was not part of the Original plan.
What God deemed as “good” in the Garden of Eden included a daily reminder in the form of a forbidden tree that signified humanity’s divinely given limits.
M. Craig Barnes puts it this way: “We all have something in our lives that is beyond our created reach. This is something we cannot freely take, something that reminds us that we are not gods who have it all.” (From The Pastor as Minor Poet, pg 94)
I'm seeking to view my unfulfilled longings as divinely wrapped presents that are given for a purpose, that of drawing me nearer to my Father. In each unmet desire is an opportunity to trust and seek Him above all else. (Matthew 6:33)
In the end, Ralphie gets his gun, and in the end, we will enjoy ultimate fulfillment in our King. In the meantime, however, our limits require that we rejoice in His presence with us. It's more than enough.