My older daughter recently discovered the lure of Internet shopping. Fascinated by the availability of trading cards at an auction site, she wanted to spend more and more time online. Though we dissuaded her from bidding her hard-earned allowance, the desire to keep browsing remained strong.
I understood what she was feeling. The first job I ever had was in a part of town where there were many stores, and I often spent my lunch hour window-shopping and buying when I could. I noticed that once I got my purchases home, they quickly lost their appeal. But I couldn't seem to break the habit.
One day it occurred to me in a checkout line that I was about to spend a substantial part of my salary on camping equipment that I had little use for, and the thrill of the purchase was over before I handed over my credit card.
We all know in our hearts that you can't buy happiness, but faced with such a variety of goods and opportunities, it's easy to go with the flow.
Yet we do know there is more, much more, to life - that we are made for something better. Two thousand years ago, Jesus taught, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (Matt. 6:19, 20).
God made us to seek and find the always-present spiritual substance and goodness of life. In the end, I'm convinced that nothing but the real thing - His kingdom - can fill this need.
Taking a break from the Internet until she had more money, my daughter discovered the greater satisfaction of putting time and energy into art projects and creative play with her sister. She then lost interest in the trading cards. Partly she was getting a break from the temptation to buy, but more important, she was finding a higher sense of good.
Not long after this, we watched a film together called "The Miracle Maker" about the life of Christ Jesus. It included the story of the man who built his house on the rock and the man who built on sand. "Build your life like you build a house, on deep foundations. Don't just take the easy way, take the hard way ... open your hearts and minds to the truth."
It does take work to insist on defining yourself spiritually, especially if there are bad habits to break, but drawing closer to God and His way pays off. Not only do we find that doing this is natural, but the fruit borne by the effort is infinitely more valuable and fulfilling than anything we could acquire on our own.
Explaining our inviolable relationship to spiritual good, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "Man is the offspring, not of the lowest, but of the highest qualities of Mind. Man understands spiritual existence in proportion as his treasures of Truth and Love are enlarged" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 265).
The shallow estimation of ourselves as bounded by material possessions, fending off boredom and emptiness, cannot stand up to the light of divine Truth and Love. As we step away from such images of life, reality breaks through and we see that we are part of the outpouring of good that is God's kingdom - an incorruptible treasure that brings lasting joy.
your heart be also.