I'm going to be speaking at church tomorrow. We're having, of course, a Thanksgiving-themed service.
I've written a little something for the service. It'll be an object lesson. I have a small toy grocery basket (labeled "Life-Mart") and inside are cans of various sizes with various labels - food, shelter, clothing, God, BMW, big screen TV, Pile O' Debt.
Read this, and then I'll tell you what I'm doing with the basket and cans.
As I was walking through Wal-Mart late one night last week, I was irritated.
It seems like there is no such thing as a “short trip to Wal-Mart.” No matter how detailed my list, it always takes me twice as long as I anticipated to get my shopping done.
Then it hit me.
I already had everything on my list. I had everything I needed that night.
So why was I still in the store, instead of at home in my PJ’s drinking hot apple cider?
It was the stuff I didn’t need that was causing the problem. Those things I was looking for but didn’t need were keeping me from being where I should’ve been.
Then God showed me that we’re the same way in our daily lives.
He supplies our needs. We have no cause to worry about what we’ll eat, or drink, or wear. He’s going to take care of us.
It’s worrying about the things we don’t need that gets us in trouble, that keeps us from being where we should be – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and often physically and financially as well.
It can cause us to spend more time at work than we really have to, to pay for things we don’t need and shouldn’t have bought. It can keep us from having the peace of mind that we should have as children of God. If we’re worried about keeping up with the Joneses, we’re using energy we should be putting into our families, our spiritual life, and our outreach to this lost and dying world.
It can keep us from being able to support God’s work, because our resources are tied up in “things.”
This year, as we enter the holiday season, I think God would want us to be mindful of some things.
In a world that tells us that we never have enough, we need to remember that He is all we need.
In a world that tells us that the measure of success is the size of our bank account, our house, or our SUV, we need to remember that He measures success by the condition of our souls.
In a world that tells us that we need to seek the next big thing, we need to remember that He says to seek Him and His kingdom, and the rest will fall into place.
We need to remember that anything that takes our focus off of God can become an idol. And we need to remember that we serve a jealous God who won’t let idols stand.
(Remember what happened to the statue of Dagon when it was placed in the same room as the Ark of the Covenant!)
As the “pagans” of this world run around during the next month trying to out buy, out bake, and just plain out perform each other, the children of God need to remember what this season is really all about.
We need to keep our eyes off of what the world tells us is important, and remain thankful for the simple blessings He has bestowed upon us.
At the end of the message, I'm going to play a version of "Simple Gifts" by Yo Yo Ma and Alison Kraus.
Now for the basket.
Anna Marie is going to carry it up on to the stage. Then, I'll read the labels and we'll start putting stuff in the basket. Pretty soon, it's too heavy to carry, and not everything will fit.
And what's usually the first thing to go when "stuff" starts to crowd in?
But when we concentrate on just having what we need, it all fits. Even Him. And it isn't too heavy a load to bear.
I pray we all keep these things in mind in the hustle and bustle of this holiday season.