“Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire.” (Ecclesiastes 6:9)
I can’t remember exactly when my 6-year-old son learned about his Amazon wishlist, but it’s a day that I’ve come to rue. Bitterly.
I keep an Amazon wishlist for him and his brother. Every time a birthday or Christmas comes around, I stock the wishlist with items they’ve asked for. I share it with grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other family members. Everyone can see the list updated in real time as items get purchased, deleted, or added. It’s quick and convenient, and I’m guessing you’ve got one too, am I right?
One day, I must’ve said something to my son along these lines: “Oh, you want that Lego set for your birthday? I’ll add it to your wishlist.”
Wishlist? What wishlist?
“It’s a list where I keep track of things you want—here, let me show you…”
My son’s eyes peered into the pixelated wonderland of the Amazon app. His little fingertip slid gently across the screen to scroll—oh wow, wow, wow!—this list goes on forever! And it’s full of colorful, happy, new toys!
That was the beginning of the end.
Now, every time a birthday or Christmas approaches, I know what to expect. “Mom, can I look at my wishlist, please? Pleeeeeeeease? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?”
He doesn’t ask to buy anything. He just wants to cup my phone in his darling little hand and scroll through the gorgeous list of toys and dream about what it would be like to play with them.
Now, picture this in your head. An active, healthy 6-year-old boy is sitting at the kitchen table with a phone, looking at pictures of toys he does not own. Meanwhile, his room, which is bursting with hundreds of toys—real toys that he could actually play with right now—stands silent.
Do you have the picture in your mind? A boy gazing at hoped-for toys while his actual toys go uncherished and unplayed with.
This picture convicts me to my core. How often am I just like my little boy?
I spend so much time focusing on what I don’t have, what I wish I had, what other people have…yet I’m not enjoying all that I do have right now.
And this goes way beyond material things. If we’re honest—if I’m honest—I don’t covet other people’s homes, cars, clothes, or smartphones. I covet intangibles like security, approval, admiration, things like that.
It looks different for each of us, but it’s envy. Grass-is-always-greener syndrome. In our house, we call it “the gimmies,” a phrase we got from a Berenstain Bears book.
This scripture sums it up: “Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire.” (Ecclesiastes 6:9)
In other words: Better are the toys in your closet than the scrolling of a wishlist.
It’s better for me to focus on what God has provided for me here and now in this present moment than for my mind to constantly fixate upon (and chase after) what I don’t have, always scrolling that proverbial Amazon wishlist.
I realize that my tendency to be cranky and discontent with the present is because my contentment depends on things other than God.
Ecclesiastes calls it “the wandering of desire.” Wandering…as in roaming around, prowling about, always looking for that next thing, the thing that’ll make life good. This scripture is warning me that the wandering of desire never finds rest.
This kind of “wandering” is very different from “hoping in the Lord.”
It’s a totally different ball of wax to be a God-trusting dreamer, who yearns for better days to come in the Lord. Like the hope we have for salvation, for Zion, and for Israel’s return. Those visions are fixed points in a God-ordained future. They don’t require us to wander around. They are arrows that point us toward a sure promise. We can “see” them with our spiritual sight and rest in those promises right now.
So today, I thank God for the sanctifying lesson that I’ve been learning as I parent my son.
I want Jesus to open my spiritual eyes to what He’s blessed me with today and live in constant gratitude and satisfaction in Him.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.