I should not be allowed to visit REI by myself. The impulse to buy is fierce. The eye-catching buffs beckon to me. The chacos call to me. The trucker hats seduce me (even though I am aware of how silly I look under their puffy perch). Even the stickers and patches beseech me to gander.
Thank you to Doug McKelvey for his thoughtful words:
I know, O Lord, that You are no petty tyrant,
Begrudging Your creatures every passing
happiness. You have crafted a creation fraught
with small pleasures, and have fashioned us with
great capacity to enjoy pleasurable things.
So it is not from a sense of dour asceticism
that I pause to question my desire to purchase a
thing I suddenly want.
It is, rather, because I have ample reason not
to trust my reasons for wanting.
In hindsight I see how the
history of my stewardship is spotted with
the acquisition of costly things I might
in sober judgement have foregone –
Things I have not used enough to justify their
cost, things I could not well afford, things that
actively warred against wise use of my time,
luxuries that offered no true benefit, things
purchased on impulse when a more reasoned
and prayerful consideration might have led me
to a better stewardship of Your trust, O God.
So sensing now some warning sign embedded
in this new desire to buy, I would first pause,
asking that I might – under Your Spirit’s right conviction –
better divine my own motives unto
the end that I might be wiser in my choosing.
If the dissonance I sense is a holy constraint,
then increase that inhibition. Give me restraint
to wait at least until that first, powerful impulse
passes, that I might make sound consideration.
Whether this purchase might in the end be wise
or no, I would still wrestle well with the question,
and so learn by practice to hobble my old
habit of purchasing on flimsy whims.
This is hardly about
the purchase of a thing anyway,
is it, O God?
It is mostly about my heart,
and what I treasure,
and where I seek my satisfaction.
So let me learn to love You enough, O Lord,
that I need no constant stream of bright and
shiny things to ease some itch or ache within
my soul. Free my heart from craven clenching,
as if ownership of a thing could ever
bring about the gain of anything eternal.
I know I cannot keep the things I hold, and so
I would not sleepwalk through this life, always
amassing that which will be of no true benefit.
Let me instead, O Lord, tend well what You
have trusted to my keeping, planting good seed
for future reaping in eternal fields.
Yes, I would enjoy the pleasures You place
in my life, and I would let such enjoyments
always turn my heart again in praise to You
for Your many blessings. But I do not want
to seek such pleasures at the expense of
good stewardship, or allow them any
pilfered share of my heart’s devotion.
So teach me in this moment,
O God, how to yield
my small desires to Your greater will.
Give me wisdom
for the making of sound decisions.
Let me learn by practice what it means to
seek first Your Kingdom,