If you saw our primary school’s amazingly professional production of ‘The Yellow Brick Road’ you will have been entranced, as I was, by Dorothy’s three companions on the journey. Each thinks he lacks something: the Scarecrow says he wants a brain, though he is clearly quite clever; the Tin Man wishes he had a heart, though he is already sentimental and loving; the Cowardly Lion is looking for courage but shows he can be brave in the face of trouble.
In our first reading God invites Solomon to ask for whatever he wants and the young king asks for the wisdom he needs to govern the great people of God. Then Jesus tells stories about the kingdom of God being like a man searching for treasure or a merchant looking for fine pearls.
The first step in becoming a disciple of the kingdom is to notice that something is lacking in our life and to start looking for what we think is missing. Sometimes we imagine that something tangible can bring us happiness, like more money, a different job, or a new relationship, but it shouldn’t be long before we realise that only God can fulfil our deepest needs. Even when we find what we are looking for, that is not the end of the story: finding it is not enough. When we find what we have been looking for, even when it is a closer relationship with God, there are sacrifices to be made. We need to look at what we already have, our old ways of thinking, behaving and relating, and get rid of whatever is not in tune with the new life we have discovered, but even then it doesn’t always make us happy. In fact it may unsettle and disturb us, making us more restless and demanding further changes.
Becoming a disciple of the kingdom is a constant process of growing and developing, of finding, selling and buying our lives, of reinventing ourselves in response to God’s continuing call to conversion.
What would your answer be now if God said to you ‘Ask me for anything you want’? What would it have been when you were half the age you are now? What might it be in ten or twenty years’ time? More importantly, what are you prepared to give up to find the real happiness God offers?
No wonder serious treasure hunters are few and far between!