I wrote an article last week about Black Friday and its ability to send us further into debt. You can read it here. After I thought about it for a while, I realized it may come across as a little preachy and condemning. I think it is a good, if not strong, message we need today. I thought I would soften the blow of it by sharing my own struggles and how the Lord has addressed it in the past.
I don’t consider myself an overly materialistic person. I don’t dress that well. I’m not all that concerned with keeping up with the Joneses. I don’t own boats, go on lots of lavish vacations or have other expensive hobbies. I wear jeans and shoes until the holes are embarrassing–for my wife. But anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for gadgets. I always have been and probably always will be.
Like many people, my bouts with materialism go in rounds. I take a few punches, give a few, win a little, lose a little and then the round ends and my manager cleans me up. It seems to go in cycles. God is not constantly dealing with me on materialism, but as an American, I think it is one issue He has to return to often. I just hope that I learn my lessons a little better and faster each time.
The Holy Spirit As A Friend
Many years ago I had a dream where my good friend, David May, was standing outside the entry doors to a mall. He was just smiling at me with the biggest smile I could imagine. I just couldn’t get over how happy he was to see me and how wonderful it was to be in his presence. If he ever acted that way in real life it would be really creepy, but I knew in the dream it meant something else. I knew he was a representation of the Holy Spirit, appearing to me as a dear friend.
I stood there looking at him for a while, and finally I felt like it was time for me to walk into the mall to go do whatever shopping I needed to get done. As I walked past him, he opened the door to the mall for me and a rushing gust of air blew out of the mall and blew my hair back and even knocked me back just a step. I was perplexed as to what was going on. Somehow in the dream I figured out that my friend was really the Holy Spirit, that the mall was kind of a bad thing and this wind was strange. Then I woke up.
I was no less mystified by the dream the next day. I couldn’t figure out what it meant. After a time of prayer, I wrote it down and went about my day. This particular day was spent in one of my favorite places on earth, the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. I was there for two weeks working from a mobile office of my laptop and Nextel phone. It was a great work environment because I could be alone with my Excel spreadsheets, communicate with my office (thanks to IHOP’s free wifi!) all while basking in the beautiful glow of 24/7 worship and prayer.
As I was sitting in the prayer room with my laptop, I took a break from work and decided to look into some gadget I no doubt had my heart set on. I researched and pondered what to get and how to get it when suddenly someone walked past me and I realized I was in a fog of sorts. I looked at the time an realized that somehow I had just wasted an hour of looking at useless gadgets and I couldn’t even figure out why.
God’s Rushing Wind
Just as soon as I had that thought, I felt the rush of wind around my body. The doors to the building were closed and the air conditioner had not just kicked on. I felt my skin and hair and they weren’t blowing, but even as the air in the room was still, I could still feel my hair moving, even with my hands holding it still! Then, as quickly as it had begun, it ended. I have never had an experience like it before or since. When it ended, I immediately remembered the dream.
I’m sparing you some of the minor details and a little symbolism, but what I knew the Lord was saying to me that day was that even in my fallen state, He still loved me. The rush of wind was the Holy Spirit moving over me, calling me to come out of that place of consumerism–come out of that mall. The Lord wanted to blow me far away from the clutches of that materialistic beast, and He used the most peculiar way I’ve ever experienced.
Hope In The Lord And He Will Direct Your Paths
I say all this to give you hope at a time when the beast of materialism runs rampant. God is so happy over us who love Him, even if we fall (sometimes repeatedly) into the trappings of sin and bondage. He will gently stir our hearts to return to Him if we let Him. He has used dreams, friends, experiences and pain to draw me closer to Him. This particular time He got my attention with a kind dream that stirred me up to recommit to run away from materialism. Other times He has not been so gentle, but He has always been kind.
Will you join me this year in recommitting to put away materialism? My life is always so much more fulfilled, happy and free when I do, and I know yours will be too.