Friday, September 4, 2015

The Velcro of Life

I'll blame it on the start of a new school year. Waiting for children after sports practice, music rehearsals, doctor's appointments--a run of short times--led me to install an app on my phone. "Just a little something to fill the gaps," I thought. But oh, was I wrong!

Somewhere around level 3 I looked for hints online. Then I tried and tried, started to get bored, when lo and behold, Lights! Sound! Action! Bing, bing, bing!! Victory! Level 13. Level 23.

It filled my moments--all of them, even when I wasn't waiting on anyone or anything. When I closed my eyes figures floated in space. When I should have been _______, I said, "Just one more." It grabbed. It pulled. It wouldn't let go.

At my age I should know better. But I didn't. Or couldn't. Or didn't want to. It takes very little pleasure to get hooked--or so I've found. This was just a silly game. It couldn't be that big a deal. But I wanted more. A taste of joy, a rush, a magical moment... maybe.. just... one... more. And now, a couple of weeks into it I see that the problem is not the game--it's me. It's that part of me that wants more, the five-letter thing we don't talk about: greed. The Velcro of life (a light word for such an ugly, destructive force).

Just. one. more.

It may not grab you with an app on your phone. If you're like me, that's the least of your worries. It happens on multiple levels, to different degrees, at different times and places: relationships, projects, work, hobbies, entertainment, sleep, even (gasp) ministry! In each case, the object is neutral--or good--but my heart grabs and won't let go. Then it grabs me...and won't let go.

Here are some brief observations of my recent experience "under the influence."When all I want is "just one more:"

1) I fail to acknowledge the pleasantries of life. My responses aren't gracious, kind and endearing but short, brief and guttural.

2) I miss opportunities to serve. Instead of setting out preparations for my husband and children, I'm distracted. Needs pass me by--and I never even knew they existed.

3) I lose think time. In those empty moments of the day when everything stops, my mind is occupied with immediate rather than big, eternal thoughts.

4) I lose prayer time. I don't have room to think about others and intercede for them. I forget the blessing of emptiness.

5) I don't hear or remember important things because I'm in la-la land.

The blatant reality of a silly game was frightening. How did it happen so fast? I was frightened for myself and the effects of a seemingly mindless game. I was frightened for our young people and our world. Where are our thinkers? Our pray-ers? Our servants and listeners? What happens to conversation and gracious friendships when we're consumed with greed and self?

I needed to cut loose. I wanted freedom. I also know myself well enough to understand that saying "no" isn't enough. It doesn't have the power I need to shake free.

Fortunately, God's Word has the answer."Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21)  I can only be free from one thing by wanting something else more. Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Matthew 22:37) When I love God more, my eyes are turned upward and outward, not inward.

Unfortunately, the more I know about the "should's," the worse I feel. I can't even do what I should. But God can. Until I ask for help and turn from doing it on my own I will fail. But when I humbly ask for help (repent) and turn to Him, He answers.

He saves and gives life! He warns because He loves us, drawing us away from poison with living water. The things I seek for myself lead to death; death of relationships, death of self, death of reward. God--the Creator and Giver of all good things--is about life and freedom. Have problems? He has--He is--the perfect answer.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?  And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:19-34)

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