Edith Nesbit is a name you may not be familiar with. She was a popular children’s writer in the early 1900s. Many kids of that time read her books including the popular Five Children and It. It was made into a movie in 2004.
Basically it’s about five children in one family on a summer holiday who discover a fairy in a sandcastle. It can make three wishes come true—and the consequences of all that. J.K. Rowling said she loved the book which, by the way, is still available. The kids wish to be beautiful and rich—but it doesn’t turn out the way they expected .Every wish brings the children more trouble than happiness, because they can’t see the results.
You may have heard the old joke about three men who are stranded on a desert island. One day, a bottle washes up on the shore. When they uncork the bottle, a genie appears and offers three wishes. The first man wishes to be taken to Paris. The genie snaps his fingers, and the man suddenly finds himself standing in front of the Eiffel Tower. The second man wishes that he were in Hollywood, and with a snap of the genie’s fingers, he finds himself on a Tinseltown movie set. The third man, now alone on the island, looks around and says, I wish my friends were back.
Sometimes your wishes may not be the best. If you were asked, What three things do you want the most? my guess is many of us would say, Money, power and fame. Really? Many people spend a lifetime chasing after these—and may never achieve one of them. A waste of time. Maybe you prefer to be healthy and happy—travel the world and see all the exotic places. Maybe you would wish for poverty to be eradicated, for financial security, and a long life? After all, what’s wrong with asking for a long life?
If you could wish for anything in the world, what would it be? Some people wish they had different abilities. Others wish for a change in their life circumstances. There is something they have that they wish they didn’t have, or something they don’t have that they wish they had. What would your wish be?
A Wise Request
The Bible has another perspective which will make sense. The question ‘What three things do you wish for most’ is not as important as how you answer the question. Our answer would reveal our true character and what is most important to us—and that’s another good question for another time maybe!
In the Old Testament we read of a day when God appeared to King Solomon in a dream and said to him, “Solomon, ask for anything you want and I will give it to you” (2 Chronicles 1:7 – CEV). Wow! What an amazing offer. And here’s what Solomon said, “…keep the promise you made to my father [David] and make me wise. Give me the knowledge I’ll need to be the king of this great nation of yours” (2 Chronicles 1:9-10 – CEV).
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Almighty God was very impressed by Solomon’s answer: ”Solomon, you could have asked me to make you rich or famous or to let you live a long time. Or you could have asked for your enemies to be destroyed. Instead, you asked for wisdom and knowledge to rule my people. So I will make you wise and intelligent. But I will also make you richer and more famous than any king before or after you” (Chronicles 1:11-12 – CEV).
Solomon was obviously a humble guy who didn’t want fame or fortune, although that would be granted. He wanted to be a better king to rule his people with wisdom and discernment. The wisdom and knowledge Solomon sought was the ability to discern and judge human affairs faithfully and the practical skills to handle the day-to-day issues of the kingdom. Solomon’s humble request revealed a selfless character, the alignment of his heart with God’s heart, and his desire to serve others more than an appetite to serve himself. In the end, because Solomon’s request pleased God, he not only granted his request for wisdom, but he also gave Solomon more than what he asked for—wealth, riches, and fame. A very interesting way in which God works. But note Solomon only really asked for two things: wisdom and understanding. It was such an unselfish request!
Sometimes we pray selfishly. It was C.S. Lewis as an older man who said, “If God had granted all the silly prayers in my life, where would I be now?” It’s the same with us. If all you do is pray for a free parking space, you are not treating God with much respect. But Solomon had it right. As a ruler of people, understanding and wisdom were key aspects of his life.
Good leadership depended on a healthy dose of understanding. Solomon had a difficult task; he had to understand the difference between good and evil, but being human he didn’t always put it into practice. It means to understand what God’s will is for your life. Not always an easy thing to do, but worth the struggle just the same.
Let’s pray that we’ll have God’s will and an understanding heart. We read in Matthew 6:33 (CEV) that Jesus said: “But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well”.