My daughter stuffed the required UPC symbols from the package and receipt into the envelope with the refund form. "Will it really be six weeks before this comes back?" she asked.
"Yes," I responded, "at least."
"I don't like this," she pouts. "Why does it take so long? I wish we could get the money faster. This is boring."
Hugging her, I assured her it would come, but it would require patience.
“But, Mom,” she said. “I need spending money now.”
I wonder about the signals we send our children. Instant gratification commercials abound. Do it today! Get it now. Put it on credit. We see it on TV, hear it on the radio, read it in the mail and across billboards that clutter our highways. Even money services are advertised. They offer money “now” for whatever it is a person wants to buy. Just call in and they will see we get it!
The messages are implying everything is easy. Like the beautiful rose, the things we want most in life are right there ready for us to take, all we have to do is reach out and grab it, yet it is so easy to get "snagged" by the thorns. Young couples often begin their married lives deep in debt because they believe they should have “today” what their parents spent the last thirty years obtaining. They buy a new car, new house and furniture, nice clothes and eat out often. It doesn’t occur to them that these “things” are best acquired over time, with patience, as they can afford it without going into horrible debt.
Credit cards make “instant gratification” very appealing. Most are extremely easy to get and offer varied credit limits. Once you have the credit card in hand, it’s easy to forget that unless you pay off the amount spent, at the end of the month, there is going to be a monumental interest rate applied to the balance. Often spending habits go well beyond the means of being able to pay the bill off when it arrives. The solution to this is often turning to another credit card. Many families have three or more cards at once. When one is “maxed out,” charging begins on another.
Our society has taught our children that status is measured in the amount of wealth displayed making the need for instant gratification an even greater desire which starts early in our children’s lives. When children begin elementary school they immediately begin a “competition” with all the other students. It is important they meet the standards of their peers. They want the right kinds of shoes, coats, book bags, jeans and even hair styles! Anything less causes even small children nearly unbearable distress and anxiety.
This entire situation makes me think about Jacob and Esau. Esau gave up his birthright for bread and stew of lentils. He wanted his needs met immediately and was willing to give up something valuable for “instant gratification.” Aren’t we, as a society, often willing to do the same thing? We give up time with God, fellowship with other Believers, even our faith to fit in, rise on the career or social ladder and more, for something that gives us immediate gratification without ever thinking about what we are really “giving up.” The cost is huge, if we would recognize it.
So I challenge you to reflect on your “bread and bowl of lentils.” Any pattern of life that goes against God, is a “bowl of lentils” if it cheats us out of our “birthright with God.” Are we then, any different than Esau?