Quick Jots: What Am I Taking?

The Concern

Recently, I’ve been somewhat careless with my finances and the weight of my laxity has finally hit. It started with a necessary plane ticket to attend my friend Eric’s wedding on the east coast. He’s getting married and has invited me as one of his groomsmen! I went to get my suit for the wedding outfitted earlier this week. I paid for the rental fees in full which I could’ve done at pick-up in Virginia later this year but was a necessary purchase in my opinion so that the groom wouldn’t have to worry. Again, these two purchases are totally necessary so that I won’t have to worry about them later but then my spending habits shifted almost immediately after the fitting.

When I was done at Men’s Wearhouse, I decided to stroll over to Costco Warehouse while I waited for my stomach to vacate so I had reason to eat at Chick-Fil-A. “I might as well stick around to enjoy a meal from Chick-Fil-A since there’s not one in Tahoe.” Costco is the only place that sells a 1,500-Piece “classic” LEGO set for just forty dollars so I obviously had to buy one while I was there. I bought dinner after I left Costco and headed home. Forty dollars is no big, right? 1,500 pieces is totally worth a mere forty bucks! The same argument can be made for a $350 55″ Fire TV, $30 pair of jeans, $70 Mega Construx Halo Energy Sword set and $20 for a new wallet. I mean, it’s not like I’m financially obligated to provide for anyone but myself so what’s the big deal?

Just yesterday, I spent around $200 more at another run to Costco/Wal-Mart and bought a pizza so I could watch the presidential debate at my dad’s house. Just bought some sweets for myself, frozen goods, more soda for my collection, Costco-sized supply of laundry detergent, biking supplies and some random groceries to complete meal choices at the superstores. When it came to buying the pizza though, I only used the cash that was given to me as a tip from work so as to not get too crazy with my spending.

After watching the presidential debate at my dad’s, I went home to finish setting up my new Fire TV and Bible study before getting to bed. I was awoken early on the Tuesday morning of the twenty-ninth because BestBuy wanted to call me and let me know that my FireTV would be delivered around eleven that morning. I had my dad assist me in propping it up on the TV stand and driving me to The Warp Zone to trade in my old 50″ Roku. Another thing I was planning on buying was a PlayStation 4 Pro, an Xbox One S All-Digital Edition or even an upgrade to an Xbox One X so I traded in my 50″ Roku for store credit rather than cash. I got home at the end of the day to finish set-up on the Fire TV and read chapter two of Habakkuk before going to bed around 11:00pm since I woke up early.1 At precisely 12:06am the next morning (I asked Alexa), I woke up because of an uncomfortable dream where I was asked to do things beyond my capabilities.

When I turned over to get back to sleep, I was kept awake by imaginary bright orangish-yellow rocks whenever I shut my eyes. I thought more on what they were and thought that they could be charred items recovered from a fire. “Oh, yeah. The fires in California. Why would I be imagining them this vividly?” The smoke from the fires was really bad about a week or two ago but has cleared up the past few days. I did see a somewhat concerning amount of smoke just over the mountains as I was headed back into town just a few hours earlier. I started to pray through my fatigue in hopes that I could soon regain peace so that I could fall asleep again. Once I expressed concern about the fires in California, I continued on to confess my purchases over the past week or so and was abruptly faced with a question that alerted my thoughts: “On the marginally-probable chance I have to evacuate, how much of what I bought am I going to take with me?”

BOOM: 100% Awake!

I asked why God would let something like that happen and was quickly shot back at with the question, “why does God let anything happen?” It’s actually a bit too coincidental for comfort because Habakkuk actually had the same question. Chapter one opens with Habakkuk complaining about how God seems to be silent in the wake of destruction and violence. The reason I started reading the book is because I was interested to hear Habakkuk’s argument after reading about it in a daily devotional. “Perceiving God as indifferent to calamity” is something I know to be untrue in the long-term but also a situation a find myself in too often. Particularly, if by chance I am concerned with the fires on the west coast and God doesn’t seem to hear my constant prayers, I understand that Habakkuk is supposed to teach not to question God’s sovereignty and to instead trust that He is righteous in his judgements and designs.

In addition to studying Habakkuk, I’m also reminded of my desire to leave to mission trips where the goal is to help a town recover from a fire. I had this desire in early 2020 in efforts to let go of my sinful devices (Xbox/Computer/Smartphone) in favor of a more god-honoring lifestyle. Experience shows that this method of gaining a closer relationship with God works in the absence of temptation. I was told in a meeting with a missions pastor that I must defeat the desire to follow temptations prior to leaving so that those desires don’t follow me. The desire to leave on a missions trip was put to rest soon after that meeting. If I’m thrown into a situation where my electronic devices perish in a fire though, I’m both released from the chains of temptation and on a personal mission to recover from the fire.

Lastly, what scares me most about this possibility is my attachment to my electronics and the amount of value I have for them. These items that I recently bought obviously have value to me but I can’t take them with me if I have to evacuate. What use would a 55″ Fire TV be if I don’t have somewhere to play it? What good would $125 in store credit do if there’s no store to use it at? How edible would Hot Pockets or burger patties be if I don’t have a freezer to preserve them? How logical would it be to load my enormous collection of soda into a car before hitching a ride out of town? Most of the things I own including the treasures I recently purchased would be completely useless if something, were that to be an uncontrolled fire or otherwise, were to effect my quality of life.

How Much I Value Quality

After high school, I moved houses a lot and kept my belongings in boxes most of the time because I never really knew where I was going to stay. I tried living with Max’s family for a short period but had plans to move out and find my own place to stay in Tahoe. That didn’t work out so I decided to move in with my dad in Sparks due to the low quality of living in Max’s hallway but had plans to move back for college. I never enrolled in the community college because finances didn’t add up and was soon invited to live with my sister in Southern California. Living with my sister had its own challenges so I moved back to Tahoe with my brother before moving in to Shasta Bible College in 2015. Then college and the bad roommate situation after college back in late 2016. I was then invited to live with Max’s mother, Jo, while I got back on my feet but it actually took nearly half of a year for me to want to fully unpack at Jo’s. Then I miraculously was thrown into this life in 2018.2 When I moved in to this house in 2018 and made my first purchase of an Amazon Echo Dot, I reminded myself that it was something I didn’t need and not to get too attached to my quality of life in case I ever had to pick up and go again.

After two years of living in the same place, I’ve outgrown my minimalist lifestyle in favor of a more substantial and stable way of living. I now have four Amazon Echo devices spread throughout the house for multi-room music. I have well over 7,000 LEGO pieces sitting in a collection of various-sized LEGO storage containers (on the lower left). On the bookshelf is a majority of my theology books not including all of my fiction on the bookshelf in the living room. My room has its own 39″ Fire TV in addition to the 55″ in the living room. I have my own mini-fridge and pantry (pantry on other side of bedroom). I am very grateful that God allows me to enjoy living in my house and letting me partake of all the luxuries that I do but I should be more aware that they are just that: luxuries.

Let us not forget the very thing that allows me to afford such a great lifestyle: my job. I’ve had my job with Caesar’s Entertainment for over two years now. I’m really proud of that accomplishment and I can see myself staying with the position for a long time. I sometimes get the gentle nudge from either the One who wants to see me succeed or the one that wants to see me fail that maybe I should seek employment elsewhere. I never entertain this thought because this job has too many benefits that I’d likely not find anywhere else (including long-term employment).3 Still, I must consider the possibility that if God doesn’t want me working with Caesar’s anymore and I’m only staying due to my hope of a long-term career that God may even allow such an adversity in order to deliver me to a position He wants me in (Jonah).

The Solution

I would love to pull a biblical reference and teach a lesson on how the biblical story better taught me how I ought to live my life. Habakkuk only supports the longer narrative with the teaching that I shouldn’t act out if God chooses to send adversity upon me for I know not his sovereign plan for my life. The story of Job or Jonah, the only two real biblical histories I keep in my random access memory, don’t really click all too well either as the focus I want to emanate is how I should spend my money. I hope I can become familiar enough with the Holy Bible in order to have such an ability but for now, I only have my practical knowledge of the Bible.

For example, I already know that I shouldn’t be spending my money this carelessly and should instead be honoring God with my finances. Spending money on things like TVs or LEGOs will only work to pull me away from God. My pastor advises that I should take a portion of my earnings and put it in either a savings or a generosity fund. A coworker has been talking about a savings strategy by numbering envelopes one to one hundred and filling them with the amount of money written on the front. I’ve calculated that I can complete this challenge in only fifty weeks by setting aside $200/paycheck. In the meantime, I have enough in savings already to financially recover from my recent splurging but I’ll keep 1 Timothy 6:10-11 in mind when I get my paychecks from now on.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Ti 6:10)

Footnotes

1 I work the late shift at work so I usually go to bed around three or four in the morning and don’t wake up until ten or eleven.
2 My journey from college to my current lifestyle can be reviewed in Am I Really Me?
3 A situation with a difficult guest just recently caused me to voice these concerns with a supervisor who reaffirmed the company’s appreciation for me and how well I perform at my job. That makes me very comfortable with the belief that I’m right where God wants me and any feelings of doubt about my career choice come from the opposition.

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