The September installment of let's-get-our-covet-on has arrived in my mailbox and now sits, unsuspectingly, on my coffee table. The innocent passer-by may glance at the cover, peruse through the glossy pages for a moment and then set it back down. A more seasoned veteran of home decor might sit in our recliner, adjust the chair to more comfortable angle, and then really study the catalog. Both readers' experiences with the catalog render no harm- they can successfully reenter the world of my-home-will-never-look-like-that. I, however, am a recovering coveter. That Pottery Barn magazine on my coffee table is akin to a Penthouse magazine on the floor of a frat house. It inspires sin.
I used to really beat myself up over this. When visiting missionaries spoke at church, I was one of the few who prayed, "God, just send me to Africa right now." I figured that being confined to a one-room mud hut with two outfits to my name would solve my coveting problems. It probably would have. But, alas! God, in his drive to conform my character to his Son's, elected that the character would come through my having to tame the wild beast of want in the midst of a dizzying variety of choices and desires. I would have to learn to make choices without simply demonizing purchases that don't feed the hungry and without justifying them with "I'm just so blessed."
So, that leaves me with guidelines but no easy formula. There are times when God surprises me. Several years back, I had my eye on some wall sconces (just say the word sconce- it's fun) and then painstakingly let them go when I couldn't find them. Last November, my mom found the exact pair at a garage sale- super low price and and still in their original box. Other times, though, I have to mentally rehearse the line, "I just don't need that." In those instances, when I want an item and can afford it, I have to flex those muscles of restraint. I have to recalibrate my system to the command of contentedness. Jesus said, "a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
I have a feeling that my battle against covetousness will span the rest of my life, but at least I know how it ends. I get to join Jesus in a reality that far surpasses this fading world and all of its catalogs. Plus, doesn't scripture say that He's gone ahead to prepare for us mansions?
I wonder if we'll have any say over the decor...