Need vs. Want
If Covid-19 has taught us nothing else, it has shown us how little we really need to survive. With lockdowns and shortages and faltering economies, we’ve learned to live with so much less than we may have ever dreamed was possible….
There once lived a king who was such a powerful king of such a large region that he had to travel quite a bit. Travel in those days was not as easy as it is today, and because it was so slow and difficult, he was frequently gone for long periods of time. One time, he had been away for many months, visiting the farthest reaches of his kingdom, ensuring that everyone was happy and taken care of, because in addition to being rich and powerful, he also had a very pure heart and was very dedicated to all of his subjects.
When he was about to return home, he sent letters to all of his queens asking if there was anything they would like, any special gift he could bring them from far away. Each queen sent a list back to the king. “Bring me silk sarees, lined with gold… bring me diamonds, fresh out of the Earth….bring me pearls from the depths of the sea….” However, while all of the other queens sent long lists, one queen sent only a piece of paper with “1” written on it. The king was baffled. He turned to his chief minister and said, “This queen writes only ‘1’ on the paper. What is ‘1’?”
The chief minister was very wise; he was a true man of God, and he could see people’s hearts. He laid his hand on the king’s shoulder. “The ‘1’ means ‘only you.’ She is saying that she only wants you. Everyone else wants jewels and sarees and silks. When this queen writes ‘1,’ she is saying that you are her number one, that you are all she wants. If you are there, with her, everything is there. In your presence, she wants nothing, needs nothing. And if you are not there, nothing can fill the hole left by your absence.”
The king was silent. “Oh,” he whispered, trembling, for now he understood. His whole life people had wanted him for what he had, for what he could do for them, for what he could bring to them. But, no one had ever wanted only him, just for him. No one had ever wanted only his presence, even if it carried none of the other gifts.
Immediately, he sent his servants to fill the orders on the lists sent by the other queens; he sent his messengers to deliver those orders. He however went to the “1” queen. When he saw her, his eyes locked with hers. Their tears seemed to flow together. “You are the only one who has ever really loved me. The others thought they loved me. But, they loved me for what I brought to them. They loved me for how they felt when they were with me. They loved me for what I symbolized. But you love me only for me.”
And the king stayed there, forever, with the queen. Because of its purity, their love just grew and grew, and it showered everything near them with light and joy. Everything in their presence flourished and blossomed. And the king became even more rich and even more powerful – although if you asked him, he would not have even noticed; he was too busy serving his subjects, serving God, and loving his queen. Their love and light was so strong that it radiated to the farthest reaches of the kingdom, bringing joy and peace to all the creatures of the land, from sea to sea, across mountain ranges and deserts, and through the jungles.
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So many times we become completely convinced that having this or doing that or going there will bring us happiness. “If only I had more of this,” we say. Children are famous for this, but perhaps they are actually only more vocal. We watch TV, we see movies, we see advertisements. The message in all of these is, “Buy this, and then you will be happy.” Sure the “happiness” takes different forms: some products bring happiness through beauty, others bring it through success, others bring it through the right foods. But, the message is the same: own this and you will be happy.
God is kind; God is giving. We are His children. So, naturally, He will frequently give us what we ask for.
But, when we ask for these things, aren’t we saying to God, “I don’t really need You, I only need this possession. Your only purpose is to bring me the possession”? If, however, we have God in our lives, we have everything. Do you think that when the King himself goes to the queen’s palace, all his messengers and servants, all his possessions don’t come with him? Of course they do. Everything goes with the king. Where the king is, everything is.
God is the Supreme King. The King of our lives. Where He is, everything is. Let us not lose sight of what it is we really need to be happy.