This was not my plan for today.
- I want a slice of raspberry cheesecake.
- I want a box of Legos with directions to create a Hogwarts castle.
- I want a new car, one with gull-wing doors and white leather upholstery.
- I want a box of Cinnabon cinnamon rolls.
When I walked through the shopping mall doors, I didn’t want any of those things. I just wanted to get my computer repaired so it would quit painting multicolored stripes across my writing page. But there was a wait at the Apple store, so I am wandering the mall.
I want a handmade stuffed bear, one with dreamy eyes that will say “I love you” even if I leave her in the dust beneath the bed.
My laptop is my connection to the “real world,” where people like you read what I write and then think deep thoughts. Well, at least “thoughts,” OK?
This week I’m reading Romans from The Message version of Scripture. Paul must have written this letter while walking through one of the shopping malls in Rome, a place where every window challenged him to detour from his chosen path of ministry.
- “You want a new sword, a sharp one that will cut your enemies to ribbons.”
- “You want a class in elocution so you can speak words that convince without offending.”
- “You want a new God, one who gifts wealth and prestige without requiring suffering.”
List a worry or a problem or a frustrating interaction with a well-meaning follower of The Christ, and there was a store selling the antidote.
“You want to choose these golden chains to replace the rusty ones hanging from your wrists. These are chains of power that come with freedom for you to be whoever you want to be. No need to grovel before the cross anymore!”
It’s obvious Rome’s mall overwhelmed Paul, so much so he turned to his scribe and dictated these words:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
I stood outside a See’s Candies store and reread the old man’s words, sensing God’s hand cutting the reverb and turning down the volume of the siren calls around me.
- I want to understand that it is not what I do; it is what God does in me.
- I want to be changed, to know what He wants me to do.
- I want to relinquish ownership of my anger, pride and malice.
- I want to accept His gifts of compassion, kindness and love.
- I want Him to slide inside me and overwhelm the devil’s noise with the resonance of His voice.
- I want to be lifted up, wise, mature, well-formed. Like Him.
And, Lord, might that possibly include a few See’s Candies along the way?