I don’t tell just anyone. It’s not that I am ashamed of it; it’s just that it sometimes teeters on an obsession and, well, any kind of obsession is questionable at best. Here it is…
I love thrift store shopping.
There… I said it.
It all started nearly fourteen years ago when I was expecting my daughter. I was pregnant for the third, and what I figured, final time. I needed some maternity clothes, but I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in them. On a lark, I ventured into a local thrift store one day just to take a peek…
They had me. Hook… line… and sinker.
My obsession waxes and wanes, but it never totally goes away. I can lose myself for a couple of hours a time in a thrift store. It’s like therapy, only cheaper. (One hour of thrift shopping usually amounts to less than $20. That might get me ten minutes on a therapist’s couch, and no cool treasures in my hand when I leave!) I love the prowl, the hunt. I rarely know what I am hunting for, but I know it when I see it… and then I pounce! I let out a little squeal and do an embarrassing happy dance in the middle of the store.
I took my mom along on my last “therapy” session. I thought she could use a session. We went to two of my favorite haunts. Unlike most trips, I had an agenda. I was looking for something in particular. I knew that finding what I was looking for was a long shot, but I hoped I’d find something interesting. Unfortunately, the first store was a bust. It happens. Sometimes there’s just nothing worth bringing home in the whole store.
Our second stop would prove better. I made a quick perusal of the store for what I had hoped to find. Again I was disappointed, but not really, because then I went in to the zone. (Let the therapy begin) Once again, with no agenda, not knowing what to expect or even what I was now looking for, I began.
After about twenty minutes, I spotted it high up on a shelf. My treasure. It took my breath away. I couldn’t believe it. I moved in for the kill. There was a man standing casually in front of it, but he was busy looking at something completely uninteresting to me. I reached high in front of him, spat out a quick, “Excuse me”, and grabbed it. In a thrift store, possession is 10/10 of the law.
I stood back, laughed out loud, and did my happy dance. He looked at what was in my hand and realized his mistake. He asked me if I intended to buy it, and I told him with assurance, that oh yes I did. It was cool, and funky, and amazing. And it was five bucks.
It was a monkey lamp.
At this moment some of you are thinking, “What the heck?” Others of you are thinking, “Awesome!”
I put the lamp in my shopping cart, and continued down the isle, still laughing. I kept shopping, but I knew I had found my reward already. At every turn I received comments on my monkey lamp. “Nice lamp.” One lady said. “Great lamp.” Another man said. Each time I would reply, “I know, right?” and I’d laugh some more. They all wanted what I had found. They saw that I had it, and knew that they didn’t.
If there had been a dozen monkey lamps like mine, I would have quickly shared them, but there was only one, and I wasn’t about it give mine away.
As Christ followers, though, we need to be ready to give away what we have been given.
I’m not talking about monkey lamps anymore, but then, I’d bet you knew that.
There are folks out there who are looking for something. They are on a hunt of their own, prowling around trying to find that one elusive thing that will meet the desperate need of their heart. Then they stumble across a Christ follower and suddenly they see it. The Difference. They see “It”. They might not even know what “It” is. They see that person possesses something they don’t, and they want it. Maybe it’s a peace they don’t have. A joy that eludes them. Contentment they’ve never felt.
While God’s happier than a girl-in-a-thrift-store-holding-a-monkey-lamp that he’s adopted us, his real desire is for us to help go get his lost kids. (Remember, a good shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep to go find the one that is lost) He is calling us to be the difference in a world full of indifference.
God wants us to give what he’s given us away. And the thing is, sometimes we don’t have to look all that hard to find them. Sometimes they find us. They are his treasure, just as we were the day he found us! Let’s go be the difference that draws them in to him. We have something they need, something they want…