Wednesday, March 7, 2018

What are you wishing for today? Anything like this?

(I wrote and published this story years ago, March, 2008, during the Great Recession, but it's message is timeless and still gives me reason to pause...)

It’s Lent, and gosh, I can tell.  I want a new car.

Not just any car. I want something shiny brand new, sleek and stylish. Why can’t I drive a fancy vehicle like my co-workers? Why not a stately SUV, or a graceful sedan with a youthful odometer?

Instead, I lumber into the parking lot in my bedraggled mini-van whose headlights look like bad cataracts. The paint is faded and there’s a small dent from when I backed into a mailbox years ago. Telltale containers of motor oil line pockets inside the door, as it needs oil about as often as gas.

When we first purchased the van, I was a stay-at-home mom and mini-vans were the rage. Our youngest daughter was so excited about the new vehicle that she'd play in it for hours while parked in the garage. Through the years, we used it to drive the kids' cheerleading teams, transport lacrosse equipment, and chauffeur classmates on field trips.

Later, the van was used to move our kids in and out of college dorms and transfer their furniture into new apartments. Whenever we considered trading it in, another need arose,  and we clung to the aging vehicle.

But enough is enough.

When this tough economy pushed me into the business world, my faded mini-van looked like an oddity in the office parking lot, sandwiched between shiny SUV’s and sporty passenger vehicles. But the option of trading it is gone, at least for now. This challenging economy and increasing expenses can’t handle it.

That’s where Lent comes in.

Normally, it doesn’t bother me that I’m driving a dinosaur of a vehicle. I choose part-time work so I can continue to write, and I’d rather continue writing than drive a shiny new vehicle. In fact, I’m convinced that’s what God wants me to do, at least for today.
I can’t imagine life if I couldn’t reach people through the written word.

So when thoughts of ‘poor me’ arise, I fight them off. I pray to keep my sights on God’s vision for my life; I read my Bible often and am convinced that the ‘enemy’ resides in my own thoughts—if I allow negative notions in.

I focus on the eternal good, not my temporal existence. I believe that God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I am struggling to learn all that I’m meant to learn from this experience. And I choose to remain thankful. After all, it could be worse. I could have nothing to drive.

But it’s Lent. The devil is dangling the carrot, just like he did to Jesus in the desert.

“Give up your writing, and find more profitable work, and you can have a pretty new car. You’ll earn the respect of your peers. You’ll feel more important.”

It’s a battle that goes on inside my head, but there’s no doubt where my heart lies. So while I might want to complain for a moment, really, I’m over it. 

Thank you, Lord, for faded mini-vans.

Next Satan took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. “I’ll give it all to you,” he said, “if you will only kneel and worship me.”

“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “The Scriptures say, ‘Worship only the Lord God. Obey only him.’”                      Matthew 4:10

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