Thursday, July 26, 2012

Proverbs 3:5-6 En Route to the Outlet Mall

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
I found myself praying on the way to the mall recently. Have you ever? If not, let me explain. A little back story and then the why.

I usually have one pair of running shoes I wear until they are pretty well worn out. My old pair was worn out by the middle of last year, but I figured I could wait until Christmas and use the money I usually receive from family members to purchase my new kicks. That's what I did.

I found a pair that seemed to fit the bill. I took them home, started wearing them, and did a little running in them. Then my left foot started, mildly, to cramp up. I thought I just needed to break in the shoes. I thought it would go away soon enough. It actually got worse. More than once I found myself laying in bed trying to stretch out my foot and calf because the cramping lasted long after I had taken off the shoes.

What to do? I couldn't wear the shoes. I didn't want to just pitch them. They were in very good shape, but were well beyond any kind of return policy time frame. I did not want to have pay for another pair just yet. For those who understand such things, I'm an over-pronator. Here's all that means to me: the running shoes I need to buy are always more expensive than I want them to be.

I called the number of the manufacturer, hoping I could send them back. They said I would have to return them to a store like the one where I bought them (it was an outlet store). Ugh. The closest one was an hour away from Wilmington. Not going to happen. So, I figured I'd bring them with me on vacation and hope to get out to an outlet mall. Add to this, uncharacteristically, I couldn't find my receipt, and even the box they came in was long gone. After re-purposing it to house Sam's diorama for school, it was roundly discarded.

So there I was, on my way to the outlet mall, really not wanting to have to pay for a new pair of running shoes. Thinking I was on a fool's errand. Thinking the chances of things working out in my favor were somewhere between slim and none. I knew my "story" was going to sound a little weak, and I had no hard evidence to strengthen it in the form of a shoe box UPC code or a receipt with a date and price paid. I started thinking through my reasoning, my "story." How was I going to explain things?

I knew I was starting to lean on my own understanding. I knew I might be tempted to try to manipulate things verbally when it came down to it. I also knew that I might get a little irritated if things went badly, and I might not display a transparently Christlike attitude. So, I prayed.

I prayed that I would be honest. I prayed that I would trust the Lord even if I ended up having to eat the cost of the shoes and buy a new pair. I prayed that my attitude would glorify the Lord.

I also prayed that God would grant me favor with the associate to whom I spoke, and that he would lead me to the right one. I did so not because I wanted to "work the system." I think my reasons were reasonable and my request was fair. I did so because I know the Lord cares about and can work in the details. I'm thankful for that.

Here's the real bottom line: It's better to be out the full cost of new shoes and have trusted and glorified the Lord in the process than to not trust him, lean on my own understanding, dishonor the Lord and get a free pair of new shoes. Proverbs 3:5-6 is needed everywhere. Even en route to the outlet mall.

A mall is a dangerous place (I try to avoid them if at all possible!). There are a lot of temptations there, at a lot of different levels. Nevertheless, it's a place of opportunity to "trust in the Lord with all your heart" and "in all your ways acknowledge him," and "whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." How you choose to spend and not spend, where you derive your sense of identity, what drives and governs your decisions, your attitudes, your level of contentment, etc. are all Proverbs 3:5-6 issues.

The outcome of my little outing is not the reason for this post. If you're curious, they graciously (in light of me not having my receipt) gave me present "fair market value" store credit, which was more than half the cost of a new pair. I'm very thankful.

The point of the post is an encouragement to trust in the Lord with all your all your ways (even when your ways lead to the mall!).

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