living in sin

I have to make a confession. I am writing this post from my brand new iPad2. Last Friday I braved the crowds and picked up my very own iPad. Now, owning an iPad is not necessarily a sin, but the process I embarked on to get one turns out to have been. My sin was not lived out on Friday, but actually came to light the Wednesday before, March 2nd, the day of the iPad2 announcement.

March 2nd was a crazy morning. I found myself outside the Apple Store at 9:00, an hour before the store opened, waiting anxiously for Steve Jobs' press conference. When I arrived there were Apple employees helping customers with tech support. As I wandered around the store, I was informed that the store doesn't actually open until 10:00. I played it off cool, like I knew, and went and sat down at a bench outside the store.

While I was waiting until 10:00, I opened my computer and found a website that was live-blogging the Jobs' press conference. As the hour approached I noticed that I was getting more and more excited for the possibility of what the announcement could be.

Now, most average people knew that Steve Jobs was going to announce the iPad2. But I was at the Apple Store because I was waiting for another announcement, a hidden announcement, that only those who were on the inside knew about. I was waiting for them to announce that, not only was Apple going to release the iPad2, but that it was going to be on sale immediately.

Well, ten minutes into the press conference, Jobs goes on to say that the iPad2 would go on sale March 11. The second those words left his mouth a wave of shame washed over me. I immediately closed my computer, collected my things, hung my head low, and walked toward my car.

The reason for my humiliation was that I had gotten totally and completely lost in the release of the iPad2. What started out so innocently, ended in shame. In November I came to the conclusion that purchasing an iPad would be a worthwhile investment for me and my family. By my birthday, at the end of January, I had saved up enough money to buy one. Now all I had to do was wait. And while I was waiting I stumbled upon this strange and amazing community of Mac and Apple rumors.

I spent the month of February scouring the internet for the latest info. I came across case prototypes and actual mockups. I weighed the pros and cons of a USB port, screens with higher resolution, and possible price increases or decreases. I even tracked parts from China as there were fears about shortages and production problems. The fact that I even could write this paragraph is an embarrassment.

And as I was daily searching for news and information, I came across the information that Apple would release the iPad2 the same day as the announcement. In my hours on line, I had come to trust this website and thought that I had truly stumbled into truly hidden news. But, when they didn't, I had an immediate wake up call. I had realized I had spent the month of February living in sin.

Now, there is nothing intrinsically wrong buying electronics or with being an informed consumer. But to have something capture my mind so completely was wrong, and for something so silly to capture my mind is just embarrassing.

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The sad truth is, we all find ourselves fixating on different things. Some times we fixate on things that will improve our status, or will bring us security, or give us a sense of purpose. And every time we put our eggs into one of these baskets, we are left wanting. I shared with you an innocuous illustration of a recent example. But if we are quite, even for a second we can start to list the countless things we fixate on to fulfill our lives. For me, some of those issues are: finances, housing prices, schools for my kids, my weight, clothes, interest rates, numbers in my ministry, good job review, the stock market, facial hair styles, baseball playoffs, and now my iPad.

Jesus lays down the gauntlet and says that we are not to store up for ourselves treasures on earth, but rather store up treasures in heaven. For where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. Matt 6:21

It is the things we focus on that shape our heart. From the big to the small, whatever we focus on, whatever our treasure is, our heart will be there too. This is an unavoidable spiritual reality. And when our heart is bound to fleeting things, we miss out on participating in the ushering in of God's Kingdom.

I have been reflecting on how different my February would have been if I had not been scouring the internet looking for the latest Mac rumors. What if I had spent February intentionally looking out for where God is at work, for where the Kingdom of God is breaking in? What if I realized that my citizenship was actually in heaven and my treasure was there too? What if I really understood that my true security, status, and purpose is found in that reality, not in fleeting earthly possessions or fixations.

Jesus invites us into discipleship. But that call can not be answered while we are still holding on to our nets, while we are storing up treasures on earth. It is only when we put down our nets, hold loosely our possession and position that we can actually see where God is at work and partner there.

May You continue to pry my hands and mind from things that are fleeting, and use my efforts for your purposes and glory. Amen.