Friday, May 30, 2008

Hate to Wait

Today was a shopping day. I went to Wal-Mart to get what I needed, refraining from putting anything in the cart that I didn't. The hardest part was the check out lane. As you all should know by now, I'm on Weight Watchers. Even though I chose the express lane--10 items or less--the aisle was cluttered with thousands of chocolate candies. It was overwhelming. And the express lane could not have been slower; felt like it took forever. In Weight Watchers classes, someone said that she chewed sugarless gum during times of temptation. I had a few pieces in my purse and dug one out. It helped. The lady behind me chuckled; she must have known what I was thinking. It was easy to figure out--I was intensly staring at the candy. But I was buying pants for work, at three sizes smaller than I wore last year at this time. I didn't get to this point by eating whatever I wanted.

I also had to go to Target, and the express lane there was also too long and going slowly. The only lane that had no line was the one with the screaming boy in the cart and a slightly frazzled young mom, so I took it. He was making grabs at the candy on the shelves before the checkout counter, and his mom was patiently telling him to wait until they got home. His response was "But I want it!". His mom kept her cool, repeating what she told him at least five times, calmly every time. And her son answered with the same response until she pulled the cart past the candy and the temptation was out of view. I knew how he felt. We both wanted to follow our impulses, and we both had to wait until we got home. I wanted to offer him my last piece of gum, but I decided that there was no need. If his mother said "wait", then he should wait. As should I.

Thinking about it reminded me of a verse in Paul's first letter to Timothy, where he told him that "...godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either."

The whole experience of walking into a store is a spiritual struggle of contentment for me. I am told on every aisle how much I need this "new and improved" product to be happy. When I was younger, I felt immune to this kind manipulation. Have I grown softer or is the advertising more effective? The discipline to stick to my shopping list (and budget) is no small feat. I wonder if I should pray before shopping? I think I will start. Perhaps memorizing some "shopping" scriptures would help a lot, too. Because outside of the store, everything is clear. Once I step inside, especially Target, it seems altogether too cloudy.

Materialism. Gotta hate it. But the only thing that shows me the truth is being close to God and His word. I used to be so good at the long term gratification stuff, when did I get weak? Has my American culture finally seized me? Or rather, have I not let God seize me enough? I've always known that my walk with God will always affect the way I think, speak and live. I've forgotten that the slide away from Him is subtle and slow, until it is too late. But I don't want to go where the slide leads me. Heaven knows, it is a long way down. I heard that C.S. Lewis wrote something to the effect that Satan would rather distract a Christian from God to the point of being ineffectual and powerless. Something like that.

So, instead of being annoyed at a slow checkout lane and a screaming kid, I was thankful. I am also thankful that God will use candy in the express lane to show me that it doesn't satisfy like He does. He is the only comfort I need. I can wait.

"My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken." Psalm 62: 1-2

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