Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In A Place That I No Longer Belong

Our family recently spent a week on vacation Palm Desert, California. It didn’t take me long to discover that I didn’t belong there.

The cars on the streets were incredible. We saw expensive cars that we have never even heard of. When we went home, my son and I would look them up on the Internet, only to find that many of them cost well over $100,000. The opulence and showy demonstration of wealth was amazing to behold.

While watching a poolside showing of “Finding Nemo” one evening at our condo, two men walked by and were comparing the pool’s projection video quality to the units they have at home. One guy couldn’t get enough of saying, “You have to come see the one that I bought…”

Driving through a nearby neighborhood, a realtor tracked us down twice. He tried to convince us that it was a great time to buy – the house we were standing in front of was selling for only $1.2 million. But he assured us that there were many to be had in that neighborhood for “as little as $800,000 to $900,000”. My kid’s jaws were on the floor. I just laughed.

While walking into a restaurant one night with my family, a couple was walking out and she actually turned to the man and said, “Now, I want to talk about the red Ferrari…” Our family exchanged surprised glances with each other. To be fair, our mini-van is a racy metallic red, so I can understand the lady’s color choice…

At one time, I think I would have liked being among these people. When I first started my career, I could have been caught up in the pursuit for more and more possessions. Now, I’m not so much turned off as I am saddened by the vapidity I see in a life spent pursuing nothing more than material gain. I think it’s a good sign that I don’t harbor even a tinge of jealousy. I am sad for these people because they are spending the currency of this life on things that break and which fade away, with no thought for what eternity holds.

But perhaps the saddest thing we saw on our vacation was a twelve-year old boy playing by himself in the kid’s playroom at the resort. It’s a room filled with video games, ping-pong, air hockey and other activities that the average child might enjoy for a time. He was entertaining himself with a ping-pong paddle and ball, and was clearly all alone. When we visited the room several hours later, he was still there – and still by himself. It was all too clear that he had been dropped off by his parents to spend the day while they were out vacationing on their own. It’s enough to make me want to cry. I could never leave my kids by themselves to endure a whole day of loneliness while I went off seeking my own entertainment. My spirit weeps for the boy and his parents, who are missing out on the wonders of togetherness and the joy of just being a family. All too soon, those days will be behind us.

Lord, I commit these few years you have given me to pursuing good, honest, and worthy pursuits. I pledge not to be distracted by wealth and the temporary comfort that it brings. Instead, I ask that You lead me to a life that is productive for You first, and which trusts that You will provide only what I need. And finally, I give my covenant to my children that I will treasure these few years that I have with them – to spend it together pursuing God’s will and the wonders of His creation. Nothing can ever take the place of this time we have together, and I promise to give all I have to them, so that they will grow up knowing the awesome power, glory and wonder of God’s promises.

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