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A part of my life that I'll never forget (no matter how hard I try) is when I worked two consecutive summers as a cashier at the local Wal-Mart. Sure, it's a great place to shop most of the time, but when you're behind the counter Wal-Mart takes on a whole new identity. For me, that identity was the devil. It soon became a constant struggle just to make it through the work day, whether it was 4, 6, or 8 hours long. After dealing with rude customers, angry managers, and people who came through the "10 Items Or Less" line with 50 items, returning home was like a dream come true. Home was my peace, my sanctuary, and the only refuge I had from individuals who wanted price checks on items I never knew existed.

I can recall one frustrating night on the eve of Easter Sunday 2000, when I had to work late. We had been closed for ten minutes already, and I had just finished counting down my register when a very frazzled-looking lady pushed a shopping cart overflowing with Easter stuff up through my checkout line. The pile of items made the Sears Tower pale in comparison. "Good evening ma'am, how are you, tonight?" I asked politely.

"It's 10:30, I'm tired, and I have a basket full of Easter stuff. How do you think I feel?" was the reply I got. The first thought that came to mind was "GET OUT OF MY STORE," but seeing as Wal-Mart requires their associates to be courteous at all times, even ten minutes after closing, I kept my mouth shut. It's extremely hard to conduct yourself in a Christ-like manner when you've put up with this sort of thing for 8 hours already.

Then the woman began to vigorously pile her merchandise on the counter in front of me. A few minutes later, she had built up a huge wall of items between us so high that I couldn't even see her face anymore. I kept scanning as fast as I could, completed the transaction, finished my work and headed home. Pulling into my driveway that night was one of the best feelings I'd ever had.

In this world, we have an obsession with "stuff." There's so much that we want or need, and we feel like we'll never survive without it. Instead of placing our dependence on God, we remedy our problems by collecting more stuff. Temporarily, our stuff makes us happy and keeps us content until we become like the woman in Wal-Mart. We keep piling item upon item until we find that we've stacked a wall of idols between ourselves and the Creator. Obstructed by our idols, we are blind to God. We no longer notice what He is doing in our lives or how He is working. Whenever He tries to speak to us, we can't hear because we're too preoccupied with the things of this world, and not the Heavenly realm.

And similar to the Wal-Mart lady, we get tired. Eventually, stacking our wall of stuff makes us weary, and we no longer find happiness in such things anymore. We long for nothing more than to finish and go Home, but we've lost the Way, thanks to the obstacle we've created. In such a way, we bring about our own downfall. So how do we get home to our refuge and sanctuary and find ourselves back in the Father's arms? Christ himself tells us the way in Matthew 6:19-21, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Jesus also gave a warning about collecting too much stuff in the Parable of the Rich Fool, in Luke 12:13-21. The Rich Fool's life was demanded of him after building up a large storehouse of crops and thinking he could get by for the rest of his life doing nothing but eating, drinking, and being merry. Jesus stresses in verse 21, "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God."

What stuff do you have in your life that you've allowed to block your view of Christ? Have you built walls with worldly items that you just can't get enough of, or is your wall a sin problem such as lust, greed, or hatred? Maybe you simply covet other people's stuff for your own. Whatever you've got stacked between yourself and God, knock it down and come Home. Return to the love and safety of your Father's arms, and your rewards in Heaven will be much greater than anything this world can offer.
- Rick Foux
July 22, 2002
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