A.B. Simpson wrote a beautiful hymn that portrayed the growth of a person from a self-focused infant in Christ to a mature Christ-focused Christian:
Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word;
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own,
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.
Simpson’s hymn portrayed the movement away from simply seeking things from God, even good and godly things, and seeking the Lord who is more valuable and wonderful than any of the blessings, feelings, gifts, and healings that He could provide. The simple, yet profound hymn illustrates that if the gifts are great, how much greater is the Giver of the gifts!
Yet, how quickly are people, like little children at Christmas, quickly caught up in the glitter of the gifts that the Giver is sidelined or even seen as little more than a genie to provide what we desire. In a subtle or none-to-subtle shift, we end up spending more time asking Jesus for something and praising Him if He “delivers’ what we desire and end up spending little time praising Christ for who He is, regardless of our situation or desires, and seeking to dwell in His presence above all else.
Ravi Zacharias points out in his book Why Jesus? (pp. 112-113) that too often today’s spirituality (which I believe unfortunately often includes many Christians) reverses the thoughts of Simpson’s hymn to:
Once it was the Lord, Now it is the blessing;
Once it was His Word, Now it is the feeling;
Once I knew the Giver, Now the gifts I own;
Once I sought Himself, Now it is the healing and my “self” alone.