Funny, for a long time I’d prayed, “Teach me to fear You,” but I certainly never expected God to answer my prayer this way.
It happened at the end of my week-long shopping marathon. My assignment that week was to find and purchase two killer outfits for a photo shoot for my upcoming book website.
Most women would kill to shop for an entire week, but I’d just about rather sign up for a week of boot camp. I only had ’til Friday, so every night that week found me searching the stores and racks.
Monday night was a smashing success only because of the help of a “shopper-iffic” friend.
Tuesday night I set out on my own and returned home with . . . one lone brown belt.
Wednesday my photographer instructed me to look for a third outfit. Bummer. But thanks to a cute boutique on the corner, I found an adorable maxi dress with a necklace heavy enough to require a chiropractor.
Thursday, the final night before the photo shoot, found me in town once again, frantically looking for a little sweater to wear over my maxi dress.
With ten minutes to spare before the mall locked its doors, I spotted it: a short, white, jean jacket. Never mind that it was $118 . . . the photo shoot was the next day, and it was perfect! Besides, I reasoned, I could keep the tags on it, wear it for a few minutes, and then return it.
Just to be sure, I checked very carefully with the clerk to be certain of the return policy. Once I was confident that I would be able to return it, I bought the jacket and dropped into my car with a sigh of relief. I had done it! I had found three outfits with not a day to spare.
But then the Holy Spirit chimed in. I hadn’t expected that, and I was not pleased. I mean, I was fine with wearing the jacket for a couple minutes and then returning it. Everyone does things like that. Besides, when would I find another jacket? The shoot was the next day. It wasn’t like I was hurting anyone or anything.
But the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let up.
For a long time I’d prayed, “Teach me to fear You,” but I certainly never expected God to answer my prayer this way.
And then it hit me. This was a gift. It was the fear of the Lord I’d been asking for! At this moment, I was fully aware of His eyes on me. This decision just didn’t fit with the righteousness I’d been clothed with in Christ.
It sure didn’t feel like a gift in the moment, though. I tossed and turned on my bed, counting the cost of a fifth shopping trip. I’d have to miss work and make up my hours on the weekend. I’d have to go out into the humidity before the photo shoot, and my curls would be in danger of falling before I even arrived for pictures. I’d have to go in search of yet another jacket . . . and what if I didn’t find one?
Besides, wasn’t it enough that Jesus had died for my sins? Couldn’t He cover this little sin, too? Wouldn’t He forgive me?
But then, what would that do to our relationship? How long would I keep away from Him out of shame for intentionally ignoring His Spirit?
And did I really want my sin captured on film so I could be reminded of it every time I clicked on my website?
I knew what I had to do. Yes, Lord, I sighed, and fell asleep shortly after.
The next day I drove the familiar route to the mall. When the sales clerk asked what was wrong with the jacket, I confessed, “It’s not what’s wrong with the jacket . . . it’s what’s wrong with me.” Once the jacket was returned, I went in search of another one . . . and found it a few minutes later for $35! It was a bit too big, but it would do. With that, I was off to my shoot.
Miracle of miracles (and much thanks to Kenra Volume Spray), I am here to report that my curls withstood the humidity, I sported three new adorable outfits, and most of all, I smiled without a twinge of guilt, fully aware of the Lord’s kindness to me.
How about you? What have you been asking the Lord to teach you? Are you willing to let Him teach you through a life situation that costs you something?
Paula (Hendricks) Marsteller is a compassionate Christian communicator.