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,

Your purposes,

Your glory.