For children in the USA, Christmas is probably the most anticipated day of the year. Children count down the days until Santa comes. They write Christmas lists, telling Santa their deepest desires. I remember one such year oh so long ago, and I remember making that list. There was one thing on that list that I wanted more than anything: a particular doll — a Barbie doll. You see, my best friend had one, and I so wanted one too. So I eagerly wrote my list and gave it to my mother, who promised to deliver it to Santa and even took me to see him and have my picture made with him.
I waited and waited for Christmas to come, even though it seemed it would never arrive, but finally that grand and magical day did come, as it will always do. As I tore through my presents, feverishly tossing paper right and left, I caught a glimpse of some legs, and then the body… Oh what joy!!! And then the smiles that lit my face turned slowly to sadness and tears as I realized that the doll I had received was not the doll I had requested. It was not a Barbie at all. You see, I received a “substitute” doll, a cheap knock-off of the real thing. My parents meant no harm. They really didn’t think it mattered. Laura wanted a doll, and she got a doll. What harm could come from giving a less expensive, imitation of the real thing? Yet to this little girl, it meant the world.
So why tell this story today? As I think back on that day in which my joy turned to sorrow over something as seemingly simple and silly as a doll, I consider something somewhat analogous yet much more important today. How disappointed and frustrated God must be when He made His list of the gifts of worship HE wants, and yet his creation chooses to give him substitute gifts. Many think, oh God doesn’t really care. It matters not if our gift of music is the exact gift He has requested, as long as we give Him something of music. So many will substitute the simple purity of the human voice that teaches and admonishes for that of instruments of music that can neither teach nor admonish. I hope and pray that each who reads this will think of the little child’s heart and put yourself in her place. Then look to God and realize that when one truly loves and wants to please someone else, he should seek to learn what the other wants and then seek to provide that gift and not a “cheap substitute”.