Kari Burgess serves as ShareChurch Communications & Guest Relations Program Director at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.
I can recall the frequent playground discussion with my friends in elementary school about what we would wish for if we found a lamp with a genie in it. It was a big deal to figure out how you could get the most out of 3 wishes granted by a mysterious genie. My first wish was ALWAYS: unlimited wishes. Am I right? You would have to be crazy not to ask for unlimited wishes first. Inevitably, this would turn into an argument about unlimited wishes being against the “rules” or some such nonsense.
The next clever wish of mine would be: a robot to clean my room. I know I could still put a room-cleaning robot to good use in my house. (And in today’s modern world, you CAN get a robot to clean your room. Or at least vacuum it. Do you have a Roomba? Is it great? I don’t have one personally, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. But after seeing the viral Facebook post about a family’s Roomba that ran over dog poop in the middle of the night, I’m not so sure I’ll be adding it to my wish list. Google ‘Pooptastrophe’ if you’re looking for a good laugh). But I digress…
My third clever wish would be: a room full of money. With enough money, I could buy as many toys as I wanted. And maybe solve a few big world problems too, if my 8-year-old mind was feeling generous.
But the Genie in a Bottle game was just that. A game. There was no hope in it. By the end of recess, after scheming about all the things we would wish for, we’d surmise we would probably never find one anyway. And, we didn’t really believe in magic.
But according to our scripture from 1 Kings today, God really did speak to Solomon in a dream and told him to, “Ask whatever you wish and I will give it to you.” Solomon had the opportunity to ask God for unlimited wishes, a robot (or perhaps a servant) to clean his room, a room full of money or some other self-serving wish.
But in his dream, Solomon instead asks for something much humbler and much more noble. He asks for a discerning mind to lead and govern the people entrusted in his care. Now that I’m older and wiser, would I have the discipline to ask God for something like discernment in leadership, rather than something more self-serving? I’d like to think so, but I’m not so sure. God was pleased with Solomon because of his humility and the spirit with which he made his request. We can learn a lot from Solomon in this moment.
There was hope and expectation in Solomon’s wish. This wasn’t a playground game or the empty promise of magic from a false god. Solomon had observed the blessings given to his father, David, when he “walked before you in truth, righteousness, and with a heart true to you”. He didn’t ask for a discerning heart because he believed he deserved it, but rather because he had confidence and faith God could provide it and had the boldness (coupled with humility) to ask for it.
Here is my wish: May my petitions to God fall within His will for my life. May my petitions to God be focused on the world and community around me and not be self-serving. May my petitions to God be asked with humility – knowing I could never be deserving of the blessings he has given me or will give me. And may my petitions to God be bold and courageous because I have confidence my God is all-powerful and can do anything.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.