You know that refreshing feeling when you finally get something you’ve needed for a long time? I was in that situation with sunglasses for a while. For those of you who don’t know, I really value sunglasses. I use them as much as possible. Towards the end of last summer, I had lost a pair of Costas that I really enjoyed. I was upset for a while, but then this past October I got a new pair. And the refreshing feeling of getting those new sunglasses I needed felt…refreshing!
Funny thing is, I sometimes have the luck of losing things. That was not the first pair of sunglasses I had lost. A few months back, I almost lost my iPod Touch, had it not been for my brilliant girlfriend.
Anyways, I went to North Carolina to see my parents for Thanksgiving about a week and a half ago. During my time there, we went to the Asheville Mall on Black Friday about an hour away, which was pretty sweet. We went to a couple stores to find some Christmas items, and at one point we went to the Buckle store to try on a few things for me (Yes, I like Buckle. Sick store, not-so-sick prices. More like sickening prices.). The day went on and eventually we left and drove home, exhausted from all the shopping bags, the lines, and the annoying parents who deceptively put their kids in backpack-leashes.
Once we arrived home, we made a quick, late trip to Wal-mart. I remember trying on a few Christmas hats to be funny, and at some point in time I reached up to adjust my sunglasses just like always and — oh, jeez. They are not on my head. Where are they? Seriously, what the heck?
I mentioned to my parents there in Wal-Mart what happened, and as we left they tried to help me remember. Did I leave them at the mall? Do I remember taking them to the mall? Did I leave them at home? No. Maybe. Perhaps. You know that sort of dread you get when you lose something important to you(I know, they’re just sunglasses)? That was clouding my thoughts. I had fallen in love with these sunglasses I just received, and already they possibly were gone forever. Traumatic, right?
Well, I eventually remembered I left them on the hook in the fitting room of Buckle. The hook was behind me out of sight, which made it a great place to put my sunglasses. Thinking about it, I remember thinking to myself there in the fitting room, “What a cool spot! My sunglasses will be hangin’ on that hook right there all stylish while I try on some new clothes. I’m so cool for spotting that cool spot. I just need to not forget about them.” Hmm…doesn’t Proverbs tell us pride comes before a fall? Oh, how I learn lessons.
Back to the story, I then called Buckle (it was just before 9, so they were still open) and asked them about the sunglasses. To my surprise, they were still there on the hook! The guy told me he’d set them aside for me to pick them up the next day. I was really happy. My sunglasses were all right. However, now I felt a big sense of guilt.
If you remember, the Asheville Mall was an hour away. We were just there at the mall. My parents had picked me up from the Asheville Airport a couple days before, and in a matter of days my parents would be bringing me back to Asheville to fly back home. I felt pretty bad about the gas and time inconvenience. Not to mention, I felt a little dumb over the whole thing.
As I was apologizing and venting my frustration in our car, my dad looked at me and said, “Don’t be angry that you almost lost them. Be happy that you found them.” I agreed, but then I went back to ranting about my irresponsibility like some strict Nazi or something. My dad replied, “Sure, but isn’t the fact that your glasses are not lost more important than the fact that they were? Don’t beat yourself up or worry about the drive, because at the end of the day you’ll only be thinking about how happy you are to still have your sunglasses.” A light then flashed into my head.
Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be with us and God? The point of our thoughts and day-to-day living should not be our sin, nor should we constantly pity ourselves in our desperation and sinfulness. Instead, we should rejoice that God sent us his Son. Don’t get me wrong: acknowledging your personal sin is of utmost importance, but if it doesn’t point you gratefully to Jesus and what he did here on earth, you are missing the point of the Gospel. Your sin has been taken away by Christ’s death, and your Savior has risen from that death to show you he is better, more powerful, and more worth-knowing than anything else. This reminds me of something Jesus said.
“In this world you will have trouble.” But he doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t end on the fact that the burden is on you and that you have to figure out a way to survive. He points it back to himself. “But take heart, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Why? Because he came to give us life in himself (John 10:10), and because he loves us.
So as you think about how many times you haven’t read your Bible this week, or how often you haven’t prayed lately, the tendency is to focus on your shortcomings. As a result of that, your thoughts start to become all about how bad you are. We might try to mask it with guilt or say we are trying to face it, but many don’t realize that whether we constantly think badly or goodly about ourselves, the point is either way we are constantly thinking of ourselves. Where does God fit in?
God wants to take those thoughts and turn your face to him. He is much more beautiful than humanity, and he is much more capable of loving than we will ever be. Paul tells us near the end of Philippians, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” All of those things describe God.
There are plenty of times where you need to confront and confess your sin. However, if you are thinking and dwelling on about how terrible you are more than how good God is, something is not connecting right. In all reality, thinking about how messed up you are should point you to wanting more of Jesus in your life. You won’t be thinking about your Bible-reading attendance because you’ll be too enraptured in His Word. You won’t worry about how much time you haven’t been praying to God because you’ll already be talking to him.
So what do you think about most? Who is at the center of your mind?
For all of you who are just hanging on suspense, I got my sunglasses back. They are awesome, and so is my dad. He is so simple and wise.