Friday, August 28, 2009

If Wishes Were Fishes

“You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”

Psalm 145:10

I recently helped celebrate my second granddaughter’s birthday with a large group of family and friends. Analiese Marlene had reached the milestone of eleven years, a pinnacle in her eyes. The party consisted of the usual faire: balloons, poppers, gifts and her favorite desert, cheesecake with raspberry topping. And as is the custom, eleven candles adorned the top of the cake, their little flickering flames adding to the glow that spread across her beautiful face. As she prepared to blow out the candles, without thinking, I quickly said, “Make a wish!” She closed her eyes, paused a few seconds, and then blew them out with a single breath. Small wisps of smoke rose from the extinguished candles as we applauded and called out our congratulations and hope for many more years to come.

This time-worn tradition of wishing on candles made me pause and reflect how, as children, we believed that expressing ourselves this way would bring us something we desired. If we were fortunate to see the night sky’s first star, we would recite, “Star light, star bright; first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight!” We believed if we found a penny and put it in our shoe it would bring us good luck. Fingers were crossed in fervid anticipation of the possibility of things to come. And the grass in the yard was scoured for that rare and lucky four-leafed clover.

The title to this piece was dug out of my dusty and cluttered memory. Where I heard it, I can not say, but I just discovered the quote comes from a child's book entitled "Twice Upon a Times" by Rose Impey. What I want to believe is the conclusion to this quote sticks in my mind as clearly as if I had just learned it. “If wishes were fishes, we would all swim the sea!” I have often thought it should say “fish the sea”, and perhaps it did. But whatever is the correct quote, either word implies that to wish upon anything gains us nothing. Wishing on objects is merely foolish superstition created to appease the desire of a child. If wishes were indeed "fishes", the majority of our time would be spent on the water bobbing a pole or dipping a net to see if we could catch the wished for desire. Considering the vastness of the sea, the chances of that happening would be pretty slim and we could just as easily hook a more undesirable fish. Although we innocently continue to hand down these ancient traditions, we would be better served to remember the One from whom all desires and longings are derived.

Jesus Christ taught the Father knows what we need before we ask Him (Matt 6:8) and that “He has scattered abroad His gifts to the poor” (2Cor 9:9). The Lord has poured out His Holy Spirit upon this earth and bestowed upon all mankind a “free” (Rev 22:17) and “perfect” gift (James 1:17) - eternal life (Rom 6:23). There is no need to wish for the gift. God has already made it available to anyone who asks (Matt 7:7-11). No wishing upon candles, stars, clovers, or anxiously crossing fingers is required. All you have to do is reach out and take it from His extended hand.

So, if I may use this venue to do so, I would like to rephrase my birthday wish for Ani:

Happy birthday, Goose! I pray as you closed your eyes and made your wish, the wisps of smoke were a fragrant incense to the Lord, that you seek after His perfect gifts, and that He gives you the desires of your heart!

I love you!


Recommended reading:

Ps 37:4; 103:5
Rom 8:5; 13:14
1Cor 12:31
Gal 5:16
Eph 4:22
Col 3:5
1Tim 6:9
2Tim 2:22
1Pt 2:11
2Pt 1:4
1Jn 2:17