My parents tried hard to instill in me the difference between wanting something and needing something. There was no money for unnecessary items, so when I wanted something, I tried to make it appear as a necessity. Mom and Dad were too astute, though, and made the final decision about the importance of what I wanted.

As a mother, I tried to teach my parents’ message to my children. They often heard me tell them that just because they wanted something did not mean they needed it or were going to get it.

And then there were grandchildren.

Last week, Douglas and I took a short break on the Florida beaches. We took some friends with us and our ten-year-old grandson. I had almost forgotten what it was like to be with a young person all day, every day, for several days. John’s eyes opened wide at the new sights. He enjoyed the beach with the white sand and the waves. The motel pool was delightful also.

Shopping was another story. After touring the U.S.S. Alabama, the gift shop beckoned with all its souvenirs. To avoid a problem, I told John how much money he could spend. His comment was, “I see a lot I want, but I don’t need it. I can’t get all I want.”

With a budget, John had less trouble selecting the things he wanted most. He finally settled for a shark’s tooth necklace as his major purchase.

I wonder sometimes what God thinks of me as His child when He hears my “wants” list. How different it is from the “needs” list that He has for me. Author Steve Higginbotham wrote the following comparisons.

I want prosperity, but I may need poverty that I may seek God’s wealth.
I want good health, but I may need illness that I may long for Heaven.
I want abundance, but I may need inadequacy that I may depend more on God.
I want success, but I may need to experience failure that I may be humble before God.
I want acceptance, but I may need rejection that I may better understand how God must feel.
I want security, but I may need to feel insecure that I may lean more heavily upon God.
I want power, but I may need weakness that I will rely upon God’s power.

Yes, there are many things I want that I really do not need. God knows just what to send me so that I will seek His wealth, His home, His strength, and His character.

Billy Graham’s daughter Anne once wrote, “I don’t want to quit; I don’t want sympathy; I don’t even want a miracle. Just give me Jesus!”

That is really all we need. And receiving what I need instead of what I want will intensify my searching, my longing, and my dependence on God. That will lead me to humble personal expressions.