Living out in the middle of farmland, our local shopping options aren’t always the most extensive. So, occasionally a trip to the “big city” (aka Little Rock) becomes a necessity. We either run across something we can’t buy locally, or we are faced with a price differential (usually on a product we like to buy at Sam’s) that makes the trip worthwhile.
A few months ago we hit just such an occasion. Our list was extensive but our budget was tight. We knew a trip to Little Rock had to be worth our while financially, and upon intense examination we were convinced that we would actually save money by making the drive to Sam’s. Well, we’d save money on one condition – we could not eat out.
When the drive is an hour and a half and the list is long, there is almost no way to avoid eating a meal away from home. So, knowing we needed to not eat out, we began to make plans to pack a supper. We came up with a delicious meal to carry with us. Cold barbeque sandwiches, grapes, chips, and drinks – all already available right here at home. We then had to determine where to eat the meal. It was not a frigid day, but it was definitely a chilly one. We knew we couldn’t really picnic outside, especially since we were planning for the evening meal and it would be after dark. So, we decided to take our meal into the mall food court.
As we parked and grabbed our bags to carry into the mall, I began to grow irritated. I looked around at all of the other people purchasing and eating their food court meals, and the irritation only grew. It wasn’t that their meals were better than ours. In truth, I honestly don’t think even our beloved Chick-fil-A could have handed up a better meal than that delicious barbeque. No, it wasn’t that. It was more that we didn’t have the choice. Our budget wouldn’t allow us the freedom that everyone else seemed to have, and that wasn’t fair.
Oh, how I wanted to pout. How I wanted to complain. How I wanted to just chunk our delicious meal and go purchase some sub-par food court meal just to prove a point.
But I didn’t. Instead, I chose to savor my delicious meal. I chose to put aside my irritation and be thankful. And the more thankful I grew, the better my meal looked and the less enticing everyone else’s fast food meals became.
Living the life of a Christian in this world is a bit like having a picnic in a mall food court. When we are truly set apart for Christ, we do things that no one else would do. And we get stares because we stand out like sore thumbs. Our behavior is just as out of place as barbeque sandwiches, grapes, and chips on paper plates in the middle of tables full of fast food bags and cups. And a lot of times, we get frustrated – not because what everyone else has and does is truly better than what we have and do, but because we don’t have the “freedom” to join in.
But, our lives are infinitely better than what the world has to offer! When we stop to think about it, the more our hearts are in tune with Christ, the less appealing the world’s life truly is to us. It’s just that sometimes we lose that perspective and fall into the trap of irritation, hungering for the cheap of this world over the riches of the kingdom of heaven.
When we start to hunger for the things of this world, it might be time to start focusing a little more on thankfulness for our spiritual picnic basket. The more thankful we become for the treasure in front of us, the more we can savor what we have – and the more excited we can grow about our picnic in the middle of a mall food court.