Sunday, September 25, 2016

Buyer's Remorse

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

I struggle with buyer's remorse. Questions like "Did I get the best deal?," "Is this something I even need?," "Do I really like it?" flood my mind when I make most purchases -whether it is a pair of shoes, a new shirt or an appliance.   I use a lot of strategies to prevent buyer's remorse.  I like to try on clothes with bad hair and no make up - because if it looks good when I look bad- I know it is a winner.  I wear super comfortable shoes when I go shoe shopping so that if I like a pair of shoes I can compare them to one I really like to make sure they will be cute and comfortable long after I have left the store.  A bigger purchase means I pull out the big guns of research and prayer.  I eagerly subscribe to Consumers Reports, read online forums and scour review sites to get an outside perspective.  I'll ask friends for their advice and most importantly, I'll pray.  My goal is to know and do God's will. I really believe that God will show us His best if we ask him and wait on His response.  In my opinion, one of the reasons for the law in Leviticus is to teach us though we are no longer under the law, God has an opinion on seemingly insignificant things like what we wear and what we eat.

Over two years ago, I felt led to give my beloved and well-used silver Sienna van to friends who are missionaries at JAARS. My plan was to wait about six months and buy a another vehicle but when I went to test drive a new van, I wasn't impressed.  Why would I pay tens of thousands for a car that wasn't much of an improvement over my previous van? So I decided to test drive a Prius v, they got much better gas mileage and had a ton of room for carrying plants and soccer stuff. But I didn't have a peace about the Prius v either. I knew I would have buyer's remorse if I got it, so I decided to wait longer. I moved on to test driving a Honda Odyssey, Subaru Outback and a Lexus RX 450h and in each of them I felt like Goldilocks, "one was too small, one had bad visibility and one cost too much."  I wasn't willing to buy a new car until it was "just right."  I wanted that feeling of perfect peace and confidence that I was in God's Will.  Like Goldilocks, I know what "just right" feels like when it comes to following God.

After two years of trips to car lots, my family was done. I'd tell them I'd found a possibility on Auto Trader and they would look at me sadly, unwilling to believe that I would ever find one that was just right.  The years of car limbo rolled by.  I had perfect peace when I gave our friends our van so why couldn't I fill that spot in our garage?  School started again and I finally felt maybe it was time.  I found a silver Sienna online for sale at a car rental company.  It was only a year old and still under warranty and the scratches on it gave it character that I would easily add to. I brought it home and everyone approved.  After a couple of hours of paperwork and a promise to fix the scratches, the van was ours!    Driving home, I started to wonder if I had done the right thing; "Had I rushed things?," "Was this really God's will?,"  "Was it really a lemon.," "Could I have found a better deal if I had waited?" As the questions flooded my mind, I could feel God say, "It is the right time, it will all be okay."  

My buyers' remorse and genuinely cheap tendencies battled with the peace that comes from following God in every part of life.   In my struggle, I held on to, "It will all be okay."  The next day, when I picked up my kids from school, my youngest started exploring the van's glove box, as he was looking at things he pulled out a book that I had assumed was the Sienna's  owners manual.  It wasn't - It was my owner's manual. Tucked in the glove box of this former rental van was a Bible!  God wanted me to know that He had picked out this van for me and that He knew what I needed and He would provide.  Perfect peace flooded my soul.

Have you had an experience where God confirmed a tough decision?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Never forget

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12  

Where were you on September 11th?  I was at home with my one year old watching Regis and Kelly.  They interrupted their lively broadcast to show a video of the first plane flying into the World Trade Center.  There was absolute shock and disbelief on their faces.  Just then our home phone rang, it was my husband telling me he had landed in Pittsburgh.  While we were talking on the phone, it was announced that the second plane had hit the World Trade Center.  Soon after, a plane crashed in a field near my husband by the Pittsburgh airport.  Thousands of lives were lost and the whole country was in mourning.

After the attack, I struggled with a feeling of vulnerability.  If this had happened once, I knew it could happen again.  I wanted to go back to that oblivious feeling of security and invulnerability that I felt the day before the attack.  The terrorists had been in America for months, training and planning for their attack yet I wasn't worried or scared.  I was living in blissful ignorance that wasn't reality. September 11th changed that. 

As a Christian, I believe there is a spiritual battle going on that crashed into the awareness of the United States on September 11th.   As Ephesians 6:12 says "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."   After September 11th, the whole country responded in prayer.  There was a feeling of kindness and compassion that filled the towns and cities of our great country.  Our great military and intelligence hadn't protected us from the attacks, so we turned to God.  Soon however, our prayers for peace were supplemented by increased airport security, terrorist tracking, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fifteen years later, Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the attack is dead but in his place thousands of radicals have carried out plans to inflict terror on Belgium, France and Turkey just to name a few.  This reminds me of the spiritual principal that Jesus talked about in Matthew 12:43-45, "When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

In much of the "Christian" world like Europe, Latin America and the US, we have replaced our foundation on Christ with trust in the government. Rather than seeing the government and leaders as instruments of God's grace and blessing, our governments have become a "god." Instead of seeing God as our Provider, the Government is our provider; rather than seeing Jesus as our Healer, the government is our healer; rather than seeing God as our Shield and Fortress, the military is our protection, rather than seeking God's Justice, we have used laws to define what is right and to create our own version of justice.  

Islamists know that this is a spiritual battle.  It is time for Christians to join the fight through prayer and vigilance.  I wish I could go back to the blissful innocence I had while watching Regis and Kelly on September 11, 2001 but I can’t.  Over the past 15 years, my eyes have been opened to the spiritual battle in the heavenly realms.  Where were you on September 11, 2001? How did September  11th change you?