Saturday, January 15, 2011

more clothes...

this morning, i stopped by the outlet mall to exchange a christmas gift i had received. after making the exchange, i headed to the nike store to see what deals i could find in there. i have been wanting a certain pair of shoes, not out of necessity but because i like them. so i went in to see what they had.

after perusing the aisles for sometime, i found some that i liked.  i mean i really liked them. and they were on sale! bonus! but something just didn't feel right about getting them. i had the money and they were on sale, but something was bothering me. so i tucked the shoebox under my arm and continued walking around the store, pretending i was shopping but really i was wrestling.  why did i feel bad about buying these shoes? was it just flashbacks of compulsive spending from the past?  a fear of habits that would put me back into debt?  maybe that was it. no. i don't think that is it. what was plaguing me? 

finally, i convinced myself it was fine and i headed to the checkout.  as i got in line, i thought, "wait, since this is bothering me so much, why don't i just ask god if this purchase is okay." so i did. and immediately i got my answer through a quote from a book i had been reading.

i have been reading a book called the hole in our gospel by richard stearns, the president of world vision.  i am only about hundred pages in, so i am not sharing my overview of the book just yet. stearns is talking about caring for the poor and loving on the least of these - an essential  component and sign of our faith in christ.  at one point he is talking about matthew 25 a passage that should cause all of us to search our hearts.  but sometimes the familiarity of scripture can be a downfall. it can cause me to breeze through a passage because i have heard it a million times before.  and that is the case for this one, until i read stearns paraphrase of it and i have not been able to shake it. and the lord brought it to mind again today right there in the nike store.
"for i was hungry, while you had all you needed. i was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. i was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. i needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. i was sick and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. i was in prison, and you said i was getting what i deserved."
but you needed more clothes just kept running through my mind. i didn't need the shoes. i have so many shoes! in fact i the gift i was exchanging was a new pair of shoes (i had just needed a different size). so while i had the money and the shoes were on sale, all i could think about was that i did not need more clothes. that my $39.99 could be used somewhere else.  perhaps helping the least of these, funny how i use my tight budget as an excuse to often overlook them. needless to say, i put the shoes back and left the store empty handed.

this broke me.  as i came home, i wrote that quote in my journal, all i could follow it up with was "forgive me lord! i have so many excuses for not taking care of the least of these. sometimes its as if i know nothing of your gospel at all. change my heart."