Tuesday, March 16, 2010
This weekend, after Church, I took my family to my local Ford Dealer to try to convince them that I need to buy the left over 2009, Dark Blue, 5-speed, Mustang GT on the lot. I have been eyeing the Mustang for a while now. Driving by, getting out, looking at the sticker price, checking out the interior, and running back to my car before the sales guy intercepts me. The Mustang is now on sale, you know making room for the 2010 model. The price is really good and I can actually afford it. I tried hard to convince my family, but they did not buy my logical reasons for needing a two door, 300 + horse power, gas guzzler.
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Ever since I have been able to drive I wanted a Ford Mustang. I remember lusting after the 1990's Mustang 5.0 GT as a 16 year old. All throughout my life I have actually gone on several occasions, money in hand, to purchase a Mustang (used). I recall every Mustang I have test driven. All 5-speed. All V8. One of my most vivid memories is test driving a modified red 5.0 notch back. It would smoke the tires and get sideways in third gear. But, due to practical reasons, insurance rates, advise from wise elders (my dad), not to mention self-preservation, I would always walk away with some sort of a practical front wheel drive hatchback.
I am now reaching my forties and I still have not owned a Mustang. I really have no excuse not to buy one. I have a good job, I am a more mature driver, and I could actually afford the insurance rates. And with a little bit of sacrifice I could even afford to buy a new one. Yes, I admit there are several reasons not to do it. It’s only a two door and my girls will be uncomfortable in the back seat. It’s a gas guzzler. I would have a monthly car payment. It sucks in winter (snow). My wife would be upset at the expenditure. But there is one particularly good reason why I really should not buy it. I do not think it would please the Lord... not at this time anyway.
Let me explain. First of all, I do not believe there is anything wrong with buying a Mustang or other sports/muscle/luxury car as long as you can afford it (not go into debt), still cheerfully give to the Church, at least, 10% of your income, and be willing to just give it way, lose it, trade it without any attachment whatsoever. But as I sat at my local Ford Dealership lusting over the dark blue, 5-speed, GT, I had allowed it to become my idol. It had slowly started to replace God in my mind, and my life. You see, the Mustang was all I could think of. At home I would be on the internet for hours checking out Mustang sites, at work I would convince myself that I work hard and deserve the Mustang, at Church I would catch myself day dreaming of driving the Mustang on a curvy country road or a racetrack. Unbeknownst to me, the Mustang started to completely consume my thought life. I would be trying to read the bible and drift off into what wheels would look good on the Mustang. I would literally have to bring every thought of the Mustang into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
2 Cor. 10:5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
But, instead of focusing on Christ, I would just replace my lust for the Mustang with other stuff! OK, if I cannot have the Mustang, I’ll get a Harley, or a new bicycle, or I’ll modify my front wheel drive hatchback. At the end of the day, my problem was not the Mustang itself, but the fact that I was trying to fill some gap in my life/soul with a thing/toy. You see, back where we used to live, I was heavily involved in ministry. I had good fellowship with fellow Christian men. I didn’t have time to lust after things, because I had to prepare weekly bible studies for the High School Ministry, home bible studies, or always be ready to serve in some capacity at Church. In addition, I met with my brothers in Christ at least once or twice a week. We spent weekends together, we served in church events, we hung out together, we did retreats, we basically kept each other and our lives focused on our Lord. Not to mention that where we lived was an adventure every day. A fertile mission field. My mind was focused on the Lord and in serving him. But, the Lord called us to an affluent part of the United States, where I would be making more money, where material things (such as vehicles) are cheaper, and just about everybody professes to be a Christian. God is so faithful that he even warned me of the new temptations I would face in this new land. The day our family got on the airplane to come to our new home the Lord said to me (through his word):
Deut. 6:10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou built not, 11 And houses full of all good [things], which thou filled not, and wells digged, which thou digged not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou planted not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; 12 [Then] beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
I know that this passage was originally for Israel and is in the context of their entry into the promised land. But on the day of our departure it was my random devotional reading and the Lord spoke it to me. The day I read the passage it sounded more like this.
And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought (me and my family) into the land which he swore to you (God had previously confirmed that we were going to be moving to this new place), to give thee great and goodly cities (we moved to a mid-size city with a large State University in the middle of the bible belt), which thou built not (my family has no ties to this city, we have no friends, no connections, no church, nor any ministerial connections here), And houses full of all good [things], which thou filled not (we moved to a new house, full of new stuff, we did not build), and wells digged, which thou digged not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou planted not(I moved to a position someone else had established); when thou shalt have eaten and be full (we ended up living a more affluent lifestyle due to the lower cost of living and higher income); [Then] beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of (my old home), from the house of bondage (my previous home is a land full of blessings, but compared to our new location it is full of violence, murders, fear, hedonism, immorality, alcohol abuse, espousal abuse, and rampant drug use).
I remember thinking, that’s not going to happen, how could I forget thee, LORD. But you see the enemy is wise. I was prepared and waiting for a huge falling away, a full frontal assault to my faith. You know: a Bathsheba, a temptation in the desert, a rooster’s crow after a denial. No, the enemy is smarter than that, he just slowly attacked my mind with thoughts such as “you have no friends here”, “you won’t find a good Church here”, “there is no ministry for you here”, “God did not send you here”, “your job here is not as satisfying”, “you can’t serve in ministry here, Churches here demand a seminary degree”, “just settle down, be comfortable, let others do the work”, “enjoy life, it’s good and easy right now”, “get fat and lazy”.
Luke 12:19 And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, [and] be merry."
In just under six short months, the enemy had slowly isolated me and tried to distance me from God’s plan & will for bring us here in the first place. That liar, he is pretty darn good at what he does. While I thought I was serving the Lord, by unenthusiastically attending church, reading the word half asleep, raising half-hearted praise & prayers, he was really slowly tempting me with the luxuries of the world, the lust of the eyes. My fervor for the Lord was slowly being replaced by my youthful passions for Mustangs, or Motorcycles, or bicycles, etc... Thereby instead of focusing on the Lord, and seeking his will, I started to become lukewarm and double minded. Like many of the “Christians” around this area. My zeal for the Lord and his ministry was slowly being replaced by a zeal for my earthly passions/lusts. I started to spend more time looking at car magazines than reading the Word. I started to spend more time researching the internet for Mustang stuff rather than studying my growing pile of Christian books/literature. Instead of praying in quiet moments, I would just daydream of the dark blue Mustang. I would talk less to others about the Lord and more about Mustangs. I even had dreams involving the Mustang.
1 Cor. 10:25 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.
Worldly thinking would reason that I should just get the Mustang and I will stop obsessing over it. But we all know this is just futility. As soon as I get the Mustang, it will be worse. Like a junkie on heroin. Once you try the heroin, you want more, not less. Buying the Mustang would lead to endless expenditures in useless modifications, whole weekends ignoring my family as I thinker and detail the Mustang in the garage. Skipping ministry opportunities to go worship my dark blue idol behind the wheel. Had I given in to temptation and bought the Mustang my mind would have been even more focused and consumed by it. I could even see myself losing my temper and yelling at my loved ones for touching my recently waxed idol or dirtying its seats.
1 Cor. 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God [is] faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear [it]. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
The last day I drove by the Ford Dealer with my family was a game changer. A wake up call. I asked the kids, expecting a big yes, would you like daddy to buy that Mustang? I received a resounding “NO”. What? You don’t want a Mustang? They responded by reminding me that I have a reliable, paid-off, car and don’t need a Mustang. My wife just said, why? Her inquiry was like a double edge sword penetrating deep into my heart & soul. I went home thinking, why? Why am I lusting for this car? Why the sudden “need” to have it? The why question became a what question. What need am I trying to fulfill by buying this car? I went to bed and tossed and turned, I had dreams involving the Mustang, and my mind raced all night. I was restless and woke in the middle of the night, realizing that I was trying to fill a God shaped hole with a car. I had slowly started to backpedal from God’s will for us in our new home, to try to fulfill my will, my wants, my lusts. The temptation was so slight that I did not see the path I was taking until I was at
the edge of the cliff. The Lord he gave me a warning and a way of escape. Thanks to him my eyes were opened before I took a bite of the apple, possibly changing or even damaging God’s will for my life & family.
Me and the Mustang may still someday have our day, but only after I mature and learn that the Mustang, nor anything in this world, can fulfill my life. Only following God and his will, can fulfill the innermost desire all of humankind has: to be in fellowship with God. Stop seeking after the things of this world, seek the Lord’s will for you life, and God will fulfill the desires of your heart. No Mustang can do that!
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.