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Are you downloading or offloading?

Most of us love a bargain find of some sort garage sale find, that sale rack at the mall, or the older models being phased out to make way for the new! Whenever we come across the item marked down to something less than its original price don't we just get a little excited about the 'find'? If not outwardly, you are probably celebrating, emotions dancing on the inside. Bargains are awesome. The problem is - some "bargains" are merely "made up" to appear as bargains! They end up not really being much of a "bargain" in the end. You know what I mean - those "treasures" you thought you could not live without that now just clutter your cabinets, drawers, or provide 'dust bunny collection spots' in your home. There are lots of things that present themselves in our lives as "bargains" - things we absolutely need - but are in reality going to provide nothing more than a fleeting moment of enjoyment.

Don't for a minute envy careless rebels; soak yourself in the Fear-of-God — that's where your future lies. Then you won't be left with an armload of nothing. (Proverbs 23:17-18)

A "bargain" which is really not a "bargain" is like loading ourselves up with "armloads of nothing". We find we have been "sucked into" the frenzy of believing the "false claims" of the things we loaded ourselves down with. Don't miss it - we load ourselves up with all kinds of supposedly "good things" in our lives - but we do it without truly thinking (in a frenzy). There is something to be said about 'taking time to consider' before we actually 'acquire' things in life - even the things that present themselves as "Christian" or "good for you".

We have a natural "bent" of comparing ourselves to others. We see another walk past us and in an instant, our minds go into the "processing mode" of analyzing how they are dressed, how their hair style fits their "look", and maybe even evaluating their other physical attributes (such as fat/skinny, tall/short, blemishes/perfect skin). In one quick glance, we form all kinds of opinions. It is like we have one of those infrared scanner devices in our mind's eye, passing each "subject" over it, registering the "coded" information we store in our brains, and then coming to a conclusion just as quickly. Pretty soon we begin to analyze what they 'present' as being in possession of in their lives and we might just want what they 'present'. Don't miss it - most of it is 'window-dressing', my friends. Most of the time what we 'portray' isn't what actually is on the inside. It is good to allow our "processing mode" to be Spirit-directed in order to avoid jumping to unreliable conclusions.

The danger for us lies in the immediacy of how quickly we jump from our own place of contentment to envying others who "pass our scanners" with the "appearance" of having it all together! You know, if you have ever seen me on a workday, you might even have come to this very conclusion about me! The conclusion you jump to in seeing me dressed for work might have someone saying,"There goes someone who has it all together and is ready for her day." I hate to burst your impression of me in that moment, but I do NOT have it all together. I struggle with judging others, involving myself in conversations which would be better off not said, and being careless in so many choices. In fact, I probably struggled with a few of those things even before I finished dressing for my day!

None of us is above envying the carelessness of those who seem to have life by the horns - living by their own might, means, and motives. We just naturally jump to the conclusion they must "have it all together" and be doing "all right" with life. The cold reality is those very individuals we envy are probably struggling terribly just beneath the surface in their lives! One who is without Christ is without hope - one who is without hope is just aimlessly wandering this earth. Although they may possess every physical attribute man considers worth having, they lack the one which assures them lasting peace, unending joy, and constantly renewed faith in hard times. Soak yourself in God - wise words indeed. Why? Simply stated - one without Christ has no real hope for the future. Theirs is a life of "today" without any real sense of what tomorrow will bring - it might look good on the surface, but underneath that surface view things are a totally different picture. One who rightly pursues Christ as the center of their life will not always know what circumstances tomorrow will bring, but they will know who holds them close as they venture into each new day.

I wonder how many times we senselessly pursue armloads of nothing in our lives. If our arms are so packed with "nothing", when Jesus offers us "something", we have little room to accept his greater gifts when they are offered. It is only as we lay down the armloads of nothing we struggle so hard to present as 'the front' we bear that we are able to embrace the things of greatest worth which Christ desires to bestow upon us - the things that give us more than a 'front' in life. It is not in how "full" our arms are that we "judge" the greatness of an individual - it is the "load" those arms carry! Christ told us his "load" was light, unlike the armloads we amass in our frenzy of envy! The armloads the careless rebels amass are acquired in haste. A rebel is anyone who chooses his or her own way. It is a word we could use to describe ourselves at times. The armloads of blessing God gives are acquired in moments of stillness. When we yield our will to live on our own terms, we often find it necessary to unload our lives of the things that we have amassed as a result of living by some of those choices we have been making. Sometimes the greatest "load" we carry is the peace of having "offloaded" a burden we were never meant to carry in the first place! Just sayin!

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