Empty shelves, rich lives

I took my mom to do a little shopping and, I have to admit, the news reports were right about the shortages on the shelves. The stores are decorated for Christmas, but where are the stacks of merchandise that usually fill the shelves? “’Tis the season” but there “is no reason” to do much shopping!

Apparently, our Christmas gifts are floating off the coast of California. This is either an excellent marketing strategy for retailers, or we are going to have some amazing after-Christmas sales in February and March.  

The good news for this holiday season is the good news of God’s priorities. The most important holiday celebration this year might be Thanksgiving.  

The empty shelves at the mall might lead us to live richer lives, filled with better priorities. 

A turkey shortage?

CBS News reported that there will be ten things that will be tough to find and small turkeys topped the list. It sounds like we need to clean out our freezers to accommodate a giant frozen turkey in the next week or do without. I vote for a pork tenderloin and no stress or mess! 

Apparently, there is a gaming system that will be almost impossible to find. I think all of us can think of about forty reasons why we shouldn’t be too sad about that one! 

A lot of toys are floating on those ships. Maybe we will all use our imaginations to create gifts that require imagination instead of batteries. 

Sportswear is in short supply. But, how much sportswear do you have stacked on your shelves or hanging in the closet? I don’t want to admit this, but if I didn’t buy another piece of sportswear until 2025, I’d be just fine. 

There is an alcohol shortage. How is that a bad thing? 

As I scrolled through the rest of the article, I realized that this “CBS Essentials” article was really just an ad for all the things they were suggesting people buy that are in stock. If you click on the article and then choose to buy something, CBS makes a little money too. 

I miss the days when CBS made money for reporting accurate news or producing entertaining shows.  

A gift that “keeps on giving”?

I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a Bible shortage as well. No one has said anything yet, but a lot of our Bibles are printed in China too. How many cases of God’s word are floating on those ships? 

What if this is the year we give Bibles to the people we care about? What if we personalize them by highlighting our favorite verses before we wrap them up? It will take a while to do, but that time is part of the gift. Giving a gift that shares God’s word is an idea that the apostle Paul would recommend. 

Paul wrote about the value of God’s word to the church in Colossae. He encouraged them to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). 

Last year was a difficult year, and we have so many reasons to be thankful this holiday season. Our gratitude will be for what we have, not for what we can or cannot buy. If every one of those cargo ships carrying toys, sportswear, and other things we don’t need sank, we would be just fine. (Unless the ship is carrying coffee . . . that would be a problem!) 

What is the Lord asking us to be thankful for in 2021? 

Our offering of praise

We don’t know who wrote the book of Hebrews, but he was a wise and godly man. The words of that book are profound, written to Christians who understood the value of a life lived with God’s priorities. 

The writer of Hebrews closed his letter with some great advice for all Christians. He said, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He encouraged them to be strong in their faith and live godly lives that honored Jesus. The author said, “Through him [Jesus] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15). 

Christians have the most amazing gifts to give this year.  

  • We can give the benefits of God’s word and wisdom with thankful hearts. The best thing about the current angst in our culture is that Christian calm and peace are really being noticed!
  • We can encourage a discouraged world by offering our praise for all we have instead of complaining about what we don’t have or can’t get.
  • The “fruit of our lips” will be the things we say that acknowledge the place Christ has in our lives.

Empty shelves or full hearts

What are you purely grateful for today? 

God is redeeming 2020 even as we close out 2021. We have a lot to be thankful for in our lives. What will be your “offering of praise” this holiday season? 

God is at work in our lives, changing our priorities to line up with his. Christians shouldn’t be focused on the empty shelves. Instead, let’s focus on our rich blessings. We are called to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God” because “the fruit of our lips” will be the things we say that “acknowledge his name.” 

Allow the empty shelves to inspire

The empty shelves are a strong reminder of everything we don’t really need. God doesn’t want our lives to be filled with stuff. He wants us to fill our lives with praise for all that matters most. That is our offering to him and to our culture. 

Praise God for the ability to be thankful, not the fact you scored a small turkey at the grocery store.

 Praise God for the ability to be with family, not shop for them. 

Praise God for filling your life with his rich mercies and those empty shelves won’t bother you very much at all. 

Let’s empty our witness of the cultural angst and allow our voices to be an offering of praise. God is redeeming 2020 with the unusual blessings of 2021. 

May the empty shelves cause us to be thankful for everything we already have, starting with our salvation in Christ. 

After all, there is a reason we call our holiday Christmas.