“The king who had it all,” is a great way to describe Solomon. It wasn’t just a catchy phrase. I mean the guy had 700 wives each representing a treaty. He had 300 concubines for… well… you know… when you get bored having sex with the other 700 women. The guy was the richest ruler in history. If he wanted something, he got it. When you have all that money and power it is pretty easy to get what you want. Of course all of this was gifted from God. When Yahweh asked Solomon what he wanted, the king asked for wisdom so God granted him that and everything else he could have wished for. But I don’t know if that made Solomon a better person for having it.
Don’t get me wrong. What was good for Solomon was good for Israel. If the king is wealthy and wise that seems like it would be good for his people. But things don’t always turn out that way. We find out at the end of Solomon’s life that all those wives turn his heart from worshiping God only. We also find out that all that wealth is not used to pay the workers that build the temple because he uses forced labor. And all that peace that he brokers with the neighboring nations doesn’t stop Israel from falling into civil war.
Working in a church I fantasize every week about all the good we could do if we only had more resources, more people to do the work, more money to provide for the community and build bigger facilities to do more ministry. Maybe we could even have enough money to have a youth building that doesn’t flood. I often think if I could just hit the Powerball I could single-handedly fund the ministry of the church. But is that really winning?
If most of our church isn’t obeying God in the tithe, if most of our church isn’t serving, if only a handful of people are truly experiencing the love of Christ that changes their hearts to serve others and obey God… does it matter that I can supply the resources myself? What good is that really doing?
When I hold my baby at night before bed and pray for her, I find it harder and harder to know what to ask for. My wife and I have experienced enough in our spiritual walk to not be naive enough to ask God that he will keep our baby happy. That is foolishness itself as a parent to want your kids to be happy. Happiness is hollow and fleeting. It comes and goes and is often caused by pretty terrible reasons. We have also seen enough that if we pray that our daughter would do great things for God’s kingdom… that will come at an awful price. Greatness never comes easy and is often catalyzed by tremendous adversity and tragedy. Should I pray she is a leader so others can thrust their expectations on her and hold her on a pedestal only to watch to see if she falls? Should I pray for the pressures of fame or intelligence so she can be despised by the short-sighted? For beauty to be lusted after and jealous of? What a terrible thing to wish your child “has it all.”
Right now I’m settling for the selfishness of “God, please allow me the time to see her become the woman you want and not get in the way.” I’m beginning to think that the only thing worth asking for is “nearness.” To be held close by God and drawn near to him. To be near my family while the Holy Spirit does his work. To be a first-hand witness to the miracles God works. And maybe if his grace and generosity extends this far… to be used in those miracles. Then I might say not that “I had it all” but “It was enough for me” to be near.