One of the things I learned quickly was to make sure I had everything I needed to get by for the week. A sixty to eighty mile round trip, depending upon which side of town what I need is on and how many other places I have to stop as well, doesn’t happen more than once a week even if you did forget the bread or run out of milk. You learn to do without. You don’t change your mind about the menu unless you already have on hand the things the preferred dish needs. When an unexpected guest arrives and you want to offer a meal, you put another potato in the pot, double the biscuit recipe, and get out another package of frozen garden corn, and if you didn’t plan dessert that night, you put the home-canned jellies and jams on the table. So far, no one has complained.
I have learned to be organized. I do everything in one visit, and usually that coincides with a doctor appointment or a women’s Bible class. I keep track of everything I run out of, or run low on, as the week progresses, and buy it all in the order that uses the least gas. I keep staples well stocked.
I have also learned that I don’t have to have everything I think I do. The only store close to us is a tire store, about three miles down the country highway. The man has been in business for 40 years. Our children went to school with his, and somehow he has made a good living selling tires in the smallest county in Florida just outside a village that might have a population of 100 if you count the dogs. But as far as shopping, it doesn’t do much for me. You can’t try tires on, they don’t do much for the home décor, and window shopping is the pits. So I don’t “shop.”
Sometimes we become slaves to our culture. We think we must wear certain things, go certain places and do things in a certain way because everyone else does. We shop and buy because everyone does, not because we need it. We go see the movies that “everyone” has seen. We buy a cell phone because “everyone” has one nowadays—“it’s a necessity.” We run down to the store every time we run out of something instead of carefully making a list of what we need and taking care of it in one, or at most two trips a week, wasting precious time and costing ourselves more money than we realize. Everyone does, we say. Maybe we should stop and think about that.
Why? First, because it never crosses our minds to be different than everyone. Is it sinful? Maybe not, but then why does something have to be sinful before I am willing to look at it and decide whether it is best for me and my situation? Why am I so afraid to be different? A Christian should have a mindset that is always looking at things in different ways than the rest of the world. If I decide this is the best way to live (and not sinful), then fine, but I should, at the least, think about it. Christians who always act without thinking will eventually do something wrong some time in the future.
Second, we are to be good stewards of everything God gives us, including time and money. If we saved a little time, could we use it in service to God? Could we offer help to someone in distress? Would we have more time for visiting the sick and studying with neighbors? If we saved those few dollars every week, could we give more to the Lord? Could we help someone in need more often? Could we be the ones who take a bag of groceries to a family in distress because that day we could buy for them instead of running to the store for yet something else we forgot?
But we aren’t really talking about running down to the store here. We’re talking about attitude and priorities—about doing the best we can for our Master in more than a haphazard way. Paul says we are to “purpose,” or plan, our giving. I have no doubt that doing so ensures a larger donation than merely waiting till the last minute to see what’s left in the bank or the wallet. The same thing will be true if we plan our prayer time, study time, and service time. Instead of running out of time for any of it, we will find ourselves making a habit of the things God expects of us.
In a parable Jesus praised the steward who was “a faithful and wise manager,” who was always working, always serving, and able to get the appropriate things done at the appropriate time (Luke 12:42). Those servants, he goes on to say, are always ready for the master’s return. Are we ready, serving and working as many hours a day as possible as faithful stewards, or are we so disorganized that judgment day will find us at the checkout for the fifth time in a week, just to pick up a bottle of ketchup?
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1Pe 4:10-11)