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    Conspicuous Consumption

    What all those Amazon boxes reveal about our hearts. March 5, 2021 by Captain Anne Holden
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    Boxes being delivered to my front door are increasing every week. The pandemic has changed online shopping for me from being just an occasional convenience to a regular habit. And regretfully, the word essential is often not part of my shopping consideration. Between one-day special sales and two-day free delivery, impulse buying has become easier and easier. The belief that something out there is going to make me happy is just one click away. It’s the original struggle, updated for the 21st century.

    This original struggle comes before the original sin. We know from the Book of Genesis that Eve has everything—perfect communion with God (she could have penned the words “and he walks with me and he talks with me….”); she has a man who literally only has eyes for her; she lives in paradise, lacking for nothing.

    And yet….

    Eve’s eyes and emotions are used to make her believe that there is something better out there and that this “something” will meet a need that she mistakenly thinks is unmet. The forbidden fruit is on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve allows herself to be deceived into believing that the fruit of this tree will provide wisdom. She looks to the fruit to provide something that it was never intended to provide. Food is intended for nourishment—not to provide wisdom, bring comfort, ease anxiety, wipe away tears or fill an emotional void. Eve has been given everything in life, and yet she allows herself to believe that there is still something lacking.

    Generations after Eve, King Solomon was also a victim of the original struggle. He, too, has everything from an earthly perspective—wisdom, riches, power, fame and influence. And yet he embarks on a journey to discover meaning. He discovers that he is “chasing after the wind” (see Ecclesiastes 1:17) and that ultimately everything he has put his hand to is meaningless.

    That original struggle is something we still wrestle with today. We can still be so easily deceived into believing that there is something lacking, and we strive to fill that supposed void with things that are never intended for that purpose.

    The list of worthless substitutes is almost endless: food; social media; legal or illegal stimulants and depressants; relationships; acquiring more and more “stuff”; exercising; binging on mind-numbing television. Anything to fill the void. Anything that attempts to convince us that there is something better out there.

    Praise be to God that he has a different answer. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).

    Like Eve and Solomon, we, too, have everything we could possibly want and need from our gracious heavenly Father. Comfort, peace, wisdom, strength for the day, his indwelling Spirit.

    And why has God given us all these gifts? “That you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). We will only ever feel that fullness of God when we allow ourselves to be still in his presence, when we quiet our spirits and when we stop trying to cram inadequate substitutes into that silence. Then, and only then, can God’s Spirit flow into our lives with the fullness that he has always intended for us.

    May we learn from Eve and Solomon of the danger and futility of seeking after the things of this world to fill the void in our lives and learn to rest and find our fullness only in our eternal Father.

    Captain Anne Holden is the corps officer at New Westminster Citadel, B.C.

    Photo: ifeelstock/stock.Adobe.com

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