The incident occurred about a year ago—as many such things begin—with a simple suggestion to my wife, Kathy: “Maybe we should consider getting a car that would give us better gas mileage.” Our Honda van was five-years-old at the time, averaging a gas-slurping 20 m.p.g. “The Honda CRV gets almost 30 miles to the gallon,” she informed me.
“Maybe I’ll check it out, just for the heck of it,” said I.
And so it was that I entered the vast world of information provided by the Internet; a place I could while away my time studying CRV reviews, pouring through owner’s comments and on and on. As I was fully engrossed in this process, Kathy reminded me that our van had 80,000 miles on it. “I’m afraid things are going to start going wrong with it,” she said, furnishing another solid “raison d’être” for making such a transaction.
Before long, we were huddled up to the computer, going through the “Build your own CRV” process on the Honda website. The trick is to get the features you most desire while, at the same time, keeping the price within reason. Each option was weighed, discussed and then either accepted or discarded. “I like the red,” she announced when we got to the point of choosing colors. “Yeah, but that black one sure looks nice,” I retorted.
We eventually submitted the application for our new red CRV and were informed that, with the allowed trade-in value for our van, we would only need a $9,000 loan to make the purchase. It was clearly an open-and-shut case. All that seemed to matter was that we were convinced we needed it and could make it happen.
At this point, I must step into the middle of my little tale to interject a vital question: “How was it that a simple thought about gas mileage could, in a matter of minutes, lead to the decision to make such a major purchase?” What should have been a calculated and prayerful decision—had been hijacked by a virtual tempest of desire. The more we focused on the object of our desire, the stronger the gale thundered within us.
There is a region in the U.S. called “Tornado Alley” because the environmental factors needed for a tornado to form occur there on a regular basis. In the same way, the human heart is the perfect breeding ground for winds of lust to form, gain velocity and create the sort of chaotic conditions that can drive a person into making poor decisions.
Kathy and I could have easily driven right down to the local Honda dealer and made our purchase but for one thing: we have learned through many painful mistakes over the years to never, ever make a major decision impulsively.
Before I share the outcome of our big decision, I would like to use this little story to point out a few principles we have learned over the years that help us find our way when these storms encompass us.
The first thing I should mention is that where there’s smoke, there’s fire—hellfire in this case. Anytime a desire for some experience or possession starts to take on a life of its own, you can bet there’s probably some devil fanning its flames. Demons flourish and operate within the realm of desire. Once a believer sets his heart on something, it gives the enemy the opportunity to try to whip it up into a frenzy of passion. This is the “spirit of the world.” (1 Corinthians 2:12) It is important to remember this when facing such situations.
The second thing I want to suggest is that God is interested in every detail of our lives. Not only does He know what’s best for our lives spiritually, financially and emotionally, but He also has a will in such matters and expects us to discover it and obey it. We call Him “Lord” as an affirmation of His right to direct the affairs of our lives. (Matthew 7:21) The believer who is actually submitted to the Lord in life goes into such decisions with the mindset that he will not move forward on it—no matter how much he wants it or how reasonable it seems—until he has a definite sense that it is God’s will. The Lord has a mind and it is our responsibility to keep after Him until He makes it known to us.
That leads me to my next point: when storms of desire sweep through the soul, it is wiser to wait out the storm. The time to make a major decision is not when the sky is black, the wind is howling and the rain is pouring. There is a saying in Kentucky that would be appropriate here: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes because it’s sure to change.” This is certainly true spiritually as well. One sure sign of spiritual immaturity is when a person makes important decisions on a whim. If we will but wait, the storm will soon pass. (Psalm 37:4, 7)
The last and most important thing I want to stress is that spending time in God’s presence is the best way to gain a proper perspective on such situations. Some of the fiercest onslaughts from the enemy dissipate when we fix our minds upon the Word of God. Spending time studying and meditating on Scripture brings a person into the Lord’s economy: His value system, His perspectives, His ways of making such decisions. (Psalm 119:97-104) The enemy finds it hard going when he attempts to keep his tempest whipped up in the calm and peaceful environs of the Eternal throne. When the enemy’s “bag of wind” is deflated, the believer will find it much easier to make a solid decision.
“And what did the Gallagher’s decide?” you ask. Once we stepped out of the whirlwind, we could see that it would be foolhardy to spend thousands of dollars just to save a few bucks on gas every month. More importantly, the Lord gave us a strong conviction that He did not want us to do it. That was good enough for us.
I’m sure the day will arrive when the Lord will give us the green light to make some such purchase. If and when that happens, we will be able to move forward confident that we have obeyed Him in the matter and that it will turn out to be better for us spiritually, emotionally and financially.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon