“It’s just what I always wanted!”

There is a famous Richardson family video in which I am eight years old and enthusiastically opening Christmas gifts in the sprawl of wrapping paper, sisters, and new toys on our living room floor. Upon the opening of many of the gifts I look at my dad with wild joy and exclaim, “It’s just what I always wanted!”  There is a measure of surprise in my voice, as if I am in awe that my parents knew what I wanted and got it for me.

Lately, I often think of that video as I delight in God. I finally got to unwrap one of the biggest gifts last week upon my landing in Baghdad, Iraq. Even though I’ve seen it sitting under the tree wrapped for 16 years, I’m still caught in wonder as I see that not only did God know I wanted it, but He got it for me! He really is a good father who gives good gifts to His kids.

This summer my youngest sister freshly observed that I am one of the people she finds it most easy to imagine as a kid, because my delight and childlikeness remains.  This is wonderful. After all these years, through struggle, through disappointment, and through success, I’ve remained Daddy’s girl. And I know it.

So, here I am in Baghdad, more than any other dream in my life, the dream to live in a war zone in the Middle East and see deserts turn into gardens is the one I’ve most thought about, dreamed about, and prayed about. God has shown Himself faithful and loving: not only to me, but to this nation. He loves this nation wholeheartedly, as He loves me wholeheartedly.  He is eager to give Iraq the Christmas gifts she’s always wanted.

And He will.

And her laugh will untie the ribbon, her eyes will pull back the wrapping, and her hands will grab hold of the gift. She’ll look at Her Father in joy. She’ll know she is the delight of His heart. And she will know she is worth the price paid.

I love this place so much. Yesterday we were driving in Baghdad and I had a moment when I realized why many friends said prior to my leaving, “I want to make sure I say ‘goodbye’ in case you never come back.” They were only partially joking. I shrugged off their words then, but now I realize they were on to something substantial. I want to see this place flourish and I’m ready to commit and invest my life in her Christmas day.

Being part of the Father’s desire to give gifts to the nations is absolutely worth it, whatever the cost, whatever the journey. The ecstasy of seeing nations open up their Christmas gifts is one of the best rewards I could ever imagine.

Merry Christmas Iraq! Father God is going to dazzle you with gifts in 2012!

Baghdad: “It’s just what I always wanted!”

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