© Mary Elder-Criss
Recently, my daughters and I went on a school supplies shopping expedition. I entitle it an expedition because we usually end up trekking here and there, and bagging lots of stuff. My daughters are home schooled, and as such, don’t usually get a lot of new clothes this time of year, as our budget goes toward purchasing curriculum, instead.
I do, however, try to make it up to them a little bit by letting them each purchase some “cool” school supplies, in addition to their basic needs of composition books and pencils. Items like gel pens, neat mechanical pencils, tie-dyed pencil pouches, and the newest in markers and glue sticks are favorites.
This year, a local department store had a great buy on backpacks, essentially allowing me to purchase two for the price of one. Both of my daughters love “Sponge Bob Squarepants,” and the store advertised backpacks with the cartoon image emblazoned on the front, including the added bonus of a binder. When we finally managed to get to the store, however, we were met with the cold reality that all of those backpacks had already been sold. We usually start school a week or two later than the public and Christian schools do, so it’s a risk we take, when shopping for supplies.
My children didn’t seem too disappointed over the lack of that particular backpack, and were soon happily involved sorting through the others that were still available. And what an assortment there was! Backpacks with binders, backpacks with CD cases, backpacks with Velcro, with zippers, with cell phone holders, with billfolds and change purses. Backpacks with tassels, with stars, with stripes, I’m surprised there weren’t some with bells and whistles. It was enough to boggle the mind. My oldest daughter chose one with about eight different compartments, my youngest child picked one that was a little simpler, but still had about 4 compartments, and had the extra feature of a strip of Velcro on the front, with Velcro letters and symbols to personalize it with.
As I began to reflect upon all these choices that my children were presented with, I thought about how some of them were simply for decorative purposes, and really didn’t serve a purpose. Other ones may have had a purpose in mind, but in reality, all the extra features and zippers and slots, only added confusion to a simple product.
It’s the same with other areas of our lives today. There are so many “bells and whistles” in today’s world that competes for our focus. So many products are designed to grab our attention, and convince us that we really “must” have all of these things to be happy. Soon, if we are not careful, we are never content with what we have, but are always chasing after the next or the newest item to fulfill our desires. A simple product, without bells or whistles, or flashing lights, might be all that we need to get the job done, but we lose sight of that when seemingly “greater” or “new and improved” models are released.
The number one item that we need to take care of all our problem areas is Christ. No matter how many new religions, or “self-help” products or societies come into being, there will never be an “improved model” for Christ. He can meet the needs without a toll free call for “customer assistance.” He does not need flashy logos, a famous spokesperson, or helpful product features or designs. No matter how many zippers or how much Velcro is applied, it has no healing power. Don’t allow the bells and whistles, catchy jingles, and neon lights to overshadow the call of the One true Creator. A relationship with Christ is something that always provides a guarantee you can depend on, that won’t rust, rot, or fade away.
One more extra? You don’t even need a cell phone with Instant Messaging or Voice mail capabilities to reach Him on, when confused.
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