Among the many embarrassing choices in my life is that I have gone to a few vacation timeshare presentations—I will not say how many. I tell my long-suffering wife that the presentation will only be an hour, I will tell the presenter “no” up front, and we will get some kind of award for attending.
When the presentation begins, the initial price for the timeshare is outrageous and I remain firm in my “no.” Then the price comes down. Still “no.” Then the inevitable, “And if you sign right now . . .,” and I start thinking that it might be a good deal, and maybe the kids would enjoy this, and we could upgrade our vacations. And then the price comes down again. In other words, I go in knowing that sales folks will try to manipulate me and I am certain that I will stand firm. Then I get manipulated and instead of standing firm, my wife has to apologize for her dazed and confused husband and drag him away before he does something he will regret.
Here is why. They promise what I want, which is a reasonable vacation, in a nice place, where we can take our daughters and their families. Sometimes I merely want that. At those times I am in my right mind. Other times I really need it, well I almost need it. At those times I go into a hypnotic trance, induced by the voice of one who tells me everything I want to hear. The problem is that my desire for something good has morphed into a “deceitful desire” (Eph. 4:22, 1 John 2:17).
Such desires can impact our relationships, too. Notice how some parenting works. One person has control, the other person has needs. If the child needs ice cream above all else, the parent can manipulate the child to do his or her bidding. If the parent needs a hassle-free time, the child can manipulate the parent by threatening to act up. The problem is not just that some people (even children) are manipulative; the problem is also our belief that we need money, love, respect, vacations, a hassle-free time, ice cream and so on. We are easily manipulated because we desire what others can give us.
Knowing this we change course and head down the path of needing less from people and loving more. We repent from deceitful desires until they become mere desires, and we set out to love deeply from the heart. There is no one more powerful than one who has nothing to lose and nothing needed beyond Jesus.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. (Psalm 73:25)
Such a person can’t be bribed or cajoled. They listen to others and then consider what is wise, good, and loving. This is one reason why meek Christians are threats to world empires. The most profound human desire is the desire to live. When we no longer need life or comfort, an oppressive empire loses its control.
When my desires for family vacations are confessed down to size, I am left with desire alone. From there, my family can seek an affordable place for a family retreat and we can keep our eyes open for possibilities. If a dream vacation does not appear, we simply get creative because our real need is to love each other, and we can do that anywhere.
Ed Welch blogs at CCEF (Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation). This appeared on April 20, 2016.