“Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment.”
Anyone with a pulse back in the 80‘s is familiar with Madonna’s song “Material Girl”. As one of her top five songs, the tune rode the radio waves consistently through American pop culture. Though not a proponent of hers, I found myself singing along to the catchy tune and identifying with the lyrics all too closely. These days the tragic truth of those words, that I am still a material girl, come crashing to the forefront of my brain every time I peruse my local department store. I find myself pining after things I absolutely can’t live without but that 30 minutes prior did not even know existed! Who knew that spending big bucks on 1000 thread count sheets would lend me a better night’s sleep? And look at the years I’ve wasted buying drugstore makeup when I could have had the grossly overpriced stuff at the department store! Suddenly, I feel left out of the social loop, like I’ve been doing it wrong all this time.
The magazines, the TV ads, the sales in the Sunday paper all scream at me in an urgency to buy that it is almost more than I can bear. If I don’t buy a pair of jeans in the latest wash or cut, I will look like a social outcast. I feel like the proverbial hamster on a wheel–running as fast as I can, trying to catch up and never reaching the ending point. Proverbs 17:20 nails it right at the heart of where I am:
“Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.”
That’s me. But when I finally take myself out of the chaos to a quiet place alone with God, I can hear Him quietly ask me, “When will I be enough?” His voice, though undetectable on a decibel level, is clear enough to cause an intake of breath. On a practical level, most of us are not in need of anything. There may be an unending wish list that would stress out even Santa, but the material needs just aren’t there. What we do need is something that no company, manufacturer, or entrepreneur can ever hope to provide us with: a satisfaction in God, in who He is, and the completeness that only He can bring to our lives.
Feasting at the world’s table leaves me empty and longing for something more. The excitement of getting something new and updated only lasts for a short time. Pretty soon my ravenous desire for more gets the better of me, and I’m back to my carnal ways. The world knows this and continually adds newer more updated models of everything—shoes, computers, phones, cars, etc.-perpetuating the cycle. Like empty calories attempting to satisfy the spaces of a hungry stomach, the “food” that the world offers can never fill a space in our lives that was only intended to be filled by God. But don’t believe me. God says it much more eloquently.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does- comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” I John 2:15-17
One summer while on vacation I found myself in shops that were unfamiliar to me, ones that we don’t have in my town. I walked into a store lined with rows of beautiful things, clearance tags dripping from the sleeves. My heart started racing, and my feet barely touched the floor as I quickly flew to the racks. Okay. I’m exaggerating. A little. But if that doesn’t describe “the lust of the eyes” then I don’t know what does. This world is beautiful. It’s filled with beautiful things and gorgeous people. I’m drawn to it. You’re drawn to it. With that in mind, I find it so significant that Jesus came to this earth in the way He did. His coming was quiet and anything but beautiful or elegant. So many people missed it because their expectations were limited to what they knew to be kingly.
In the noise of our modern world, we too miss God, blinded by the distractions surrounding us, completely missing what He has appointed as beautiful and worthy of our time and attention–a relationship with Him that reaches to the people in our sphere of influence. On the days that I choose to concentrate on Jesus and to lay at His feet everything that I deem important, I am struck over and over again at how immediately those things become clutter at my feet. Nothing more than stuff to step over as I make my way to Him.
Sometimes the most wonderful things, the things most dense with meaning and substance are quiet and not necessarily attractive by the world’s standards. In contrast I’ve learned that just because the packaging is gorgeous doesn’t mean what’s inside is anything more than a cheap trinket.