December 10, 2019

Beyond the Basic Wish List by Sharon Espeseth

Free Image of Sears Wish Book

Depending on your age, my readers, you may be familiar with Eaton’s or Sear’s Christmas Wish Book. You may remember times in your childhood, or your children’s childhood, when the arrival of the Christmas Wish Book delivered delight and anticipation to your home.

Unsplash Photo by

Annie Spratt

Now, in a more senior season of my life, I am looking forward to the coming of Christmas, still with delight and anticipation, but knowing full well that I don’t need the toys, jewels, or clothes that once turned my head.

What Do I Want for Christmas?

Any time with family is a special time. At Christmas this is especially important. The presence of family is a true gift--one for which we give thanks. Being with and connected to family and loved ones at Christmas is something one can never take for granted.

This Christmas I also want to be mindful of the gifts God gives us--the important, everlasting gifts, like unconditional love, forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. These are gifts, but we need to claim them. St. Paul tells the Ephesians, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Spiritual Bonuses

Besides these overwhelming, destiny-changing presents, God gives us spiritual snacks and supports for our heavenward journey. If we want to live abundantly, or travel first-class, we merely need to ask. Jesus reminds us that, compared to earthly fathers who want to give good gifts to their children, God the Father has more resources for giving gifts to those who ask. The gift, may or may not be a new car, but God knows what we truly want and need before we ask.

Praying for the Holy Spirit would be a wise choice. Christ promised he would send the Holy Spirit to be with us and comfort us. If we ask, the Comforter will bring us all kinds of gifts: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

Promises, Promises. . .

God promises blessing to make our lives more abundant. We’ve all heard, "Promises, Promises. . . ,” sarcastically spoken. But God delivers on his promises. In all circumstances, God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28)

We’ll still have our hills and valleys, but God can take care of this too. Isaiah prophesies that every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. (Isaiah 40:4)

Then there are times when God in his wisdom sees that it is better to leave us with our impediments. Paul pleaded with the Lord to take away his “thorn in the flesh,” but the Lord replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Grace is another promised gift that is ours for the asking. God’s grace doesn’t depend on our strength or worthiness.

Be Careful What You Ask For

Solomon, young and anxious about becoming king, asked God for “a discerning heart to govern (God’s) people” and “the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.” God was so enthused about his request that he promised Solomon he would be wiser than anyone before him and anyone after him. God’s gift of wisdom made Solomon’s reign unforgettable.

We too can ask for wisdom. In the New Testament, James advises us that if we feel lacking in wisdom, we should ask God. (James 1:5)

Jesus tells us we only need to ask and then we will receive. (Matthew 7:7-8) James warns his new-Christian readers, “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:2b-3)

How Do We Ask for Worthy Gifts?

Jesus taught us how to ask for worthy gifts. We begin our prayer with praise and honour to God, Our Heavenly Father. Then we ask for our daily needs. It is wise to ask for deliverance from evil. We can ask forgiveness, but Jesus reminds us that we should also be willing to forgive those who wrong us.

How Can We Grow in Our Spiritual Lives?

Regularly “eating” our spiritual fruits will make life easier. Reading God’s Word and praying will help us grow. Asking for help to be more loving, joyful, patient and kind will foster better relationships with others. Although we can’t regulate how others treat us, we can ask for control over our reactions.

Satisfaction Guaranteed?

By appreciating God’s gifts, we will store up treasures in heaven where thieves can’t get at them. Fancy clothes, furniture, vehicles, gourmet foods--maybe these aren’t the big-ticket items. Christ says, “Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? (Matthew 6:25b) Still, Jesus suggests we ask for “our daily bread.” And if we love our neighbour as ourselves, we will share what we have with those who are in need.

As Christ followers, we will be happier if we seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness first. The rest will be added on. (Matthew 6:33) The real gifts are the ones that bring us closer to God, closer to our brother and sister, and closer to heaven.

One of the greatest gifts is our adoption into God’s family. As God’s children, we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. To share in his glory, however, we are expected to appreciate and share in Christ’s sufferings. (Romans 8:17)

Thank You Notes

With all these spiritual gifts available, let’s remember always, and maybe especially at Christmas, to be grateful that God sent his only Son to come into the world to live among us and to die for our sins. Let us rejoice and be glad that God planned so well for us, his children.

Creche Scene at St. Anne’s Catholic Church
in Barrhead

Paul advises, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6) These gifts that come down from the Father are the good and perfect ones. (James 1:17) Choose well, my friends, and we will be ready to greet Emmanuel when he comes.

Prayer: During this busy, but holy season, Lord, I pray you will teach us to judge earthly matters wisely, to set spiritually meaningful priorities, and hold firmly to heavenly matters. Bless each of our InScribe colleagues and their families and loved ones, especially during this season, when we welcome Christ Emmanuel into our hearts and homes. Amen. 

* Scripture verses are from the New International Version of the Bible.

Revised by Sharon from previous iterations published in Our Family, Offerings in The Edmonton Journal 


  1. I LOVED getting the catalogues as a child! It was so special and we literally poured over every page... Despite the fact that many things have changed, I loved the way you brought our focus back to Jesus. thank you for this lovely post Sharon and may God bless you this season and into 2020.

  2. Your titile caught my eye, Beyond the baic wish list-I too loved getting the Sears Christmas catalogue! You said it well: "Being with and connected to family and loved ones at Christmas is something one can never take for granted."Wishing you a very meaningful Christmas ...

  3. Yes, I will take His first class ticket! A great reminder that His gifts are there for many wonderful gifts from the One who knows. Merry Christmas Sharon!

  4. Thank you, Sharon, for reminding us to focus on the spiritual gifts this Christmas rather than on the material ones. I, too, fondly remember those colourful Christmas Wish Books from years gone by. Sadly, those stores and their beautiful Christmas catalogs no longer exist, and online shopping just doesn't hold quite the same appeal for me.

  5. Thanks, Sharon for taking us down memory lane to the Christmas Wish catalogs. You tied this memory in very well with asking God for worthy things like wisdom, and especially for His Son. God bless you this Christmas.


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