I went to a local drug store today to dash in and pick up ONE THING. I confess, I sometimes leave a store with a few more items than I went shopping for….OK….sometimes a LOT more! But today I was laser-focused on the ONE THING I came for, namely sugar-free cough drops. I was doing great – found a straightaway to the cold remedy section and quickly spotted the cough drops, where they were on SALE…..so, of course I grabbed two bags (see what just happened there?) I was headed up to the checkout stand when up ahead I could just barely make out a blurry pile of pink, red and purple. Being a little nearsighted, I decided to divert from my mission just a bit and take a closer look. So, off I went, and there, just past the “As Seen on TV” aisle and the bulk Cheese Puffs I found the saddest little collection of post-holiday merchandise I think I’ve ever seen. There was a not-so-white-anymore teddy bear with heart bowtie askew, scuffed and partially opened heart-shaped candy boxes of undetermined origin, plastic tumblers that said “Bee Mine” and cupid-bedecked boxer shorts, all heaped in a clearance pile that was clearly intended to move the remnants of the last holiday out of the way to make room for the next.
Wait….wasn’t Valentine’s Day like….last week? Just a week ago this sad little collection of left-overs was carefully displayed in neat rows with enticing signage and prices that were definitely not clearance-like. But today, those same shelves are filled with pristine fluffy stuffed animals, baskets full of candy and colors of plastic grass definitely not found in nature. But the bunnies aren’t safe either! Soon there will be garden gnomes, then pool supplies followed by back-to-school gear, pumpkins, turkeys, reindeer and finally……new valentines.
As I meandered through the pastel wonderland of bunnies and chocolate, I couldn’t help but notice how attractive it all was – I don’t mean pretty, actually, but attractive in that it attracted (and diverted) my attention. And then it occurred to me that what started as attraction, quick-like-a-bunny became distraction. I entered that store to buy ONE THING (of which I bought two, because, did I mention they were on SALE?) And yet somehow I still found myself gazing at things I really didn’t want and certainly did not need…..
Oh how we need this season of Lent! If allowed, it offers such a rich and meaningful time of reflection and remembrance when all around us we are being lured by the fluffy, shiny, tasty treats of life, turning our attractions to distractions, and before we know it, the celebration of Easter has come without us even noticing the road that brought us to the resurrection.
Jesus could have so easily become caught up in who people wanted him to be – and he could have had absolutely anything of material value he desired, not to mention power, fame, and prestige. But he so wisely saw those things for what they were….temporary distractions that would keep him from his ONE THING – the cross of calvary where he took the sin, the pain, the failures, the disappointments, the grief of humanity. If I’m to be distracted in the coming weeks, let it be by this unbelievable grace!
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”