Birthday Wants

What You Want and What You Get May Not Match

Ed, my old neighbor from Saskatchewan, phoned last week to wish me a happy birthday. He had to inform me that I’m becoming a genuine, antique, with every birthday.  “What did you want for your birthday and what did you get?” Ed asked me. I had a list ready because my old neighbor has asked those same questions, each year since I have known him. He needed to chew on my answer for at least five seconds.

I told Ed that as an antique I still wanted Freud’s primary needs met, which are to seek pleasure and to avoid pain. I also wanted another year when I didn’t lose my mind or control over my body. What I wanted and didn’t get was a smaller potbelly, fewer wrinkles and hair growth instead of baldness. It would have been great to become less dull and more upbeat, but it didn’t happen as a birthday gift. Nor did I become able to eat whatever I like without gaining weight. Last of all, even on my birthday no one recognized me as talented or brilliant.

It didn’t take five seconds for Ed to tell me that if I bought lottery tickets, I could strike it rich as money makes birthdays perfect. With lots of money, I could travel around the world. When traveling I could go scuba diving, cliff diving, and skydiving, and if I didn’t come apart at the joints, crack. dent, or chip, I would prove that I was a genuine antique. Ed assured me that no one hears that they are talented or brilliant from their family and friends even if it is their birthday.

The Bible tells us that King Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his high officials, and the military commanders, and the leading men of Galilee. The daughter of his wife danced to entertain the king and his guests, and she pleased them greatly. The king promised to give on oath anything she wanted, up to half his kingdom. The girl did not know what to ask the king for, so she asked her mother. Her mother told her to ask the king for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

Her mother, the queen, hated John the Baptist because he had spoken out to the King telling him that it was not lawful for the King to have his brother Philip’s wife. The queen had long wanted John killed, but the King arrested John and kept him in prison. The king did not want to kill John, who the people held as a prophet. Herod himself felt that John was a righteous and holy man.

When the girl asked for John’s head, the king was distressed, but he had vowed to give her what she asked for in front of his guests, so he did not refuse her request. He gave the orders, and John’s head was brought on a platter to the girl who gave it to her mother. It was a birthday that troubled Herod for years afterward. The queen was determined to get even. Her hate led to John’s execution. Murder is anger in action. Anyone who hates another person is a murderer. (1 John 3:15)

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Raymond Maher
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