Azaleas blooming out of season or God's presence?

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'I'm not materialistic" is what I often say. "It's just not something I struggle with" is my pious followup, as my friends discuss their burning desire for the next big thing.

I employed the GPS on my phone in an unfamiliar part of town when this statement and personal credo was challenged. Turn left, said the automated voice, so I did and was immediately greeted by one vast estate after another. I would call it a neighborhood, but I think there is an aspect of relative proximity that houses must have to fall in that category. Mansion after mansion, estate after estate and perfectly manicured lawns whizzed by, and I found myself wondering what it would be like to live several grades above my economic station. One house even had azaleas blooming - how rich does one have to be to force azaleas to bloom out of season?

It feels like that sometimes: that there are those who have extraordinary abilities to thrive materialistically while others work just as hard and have less. As I compared my life to those lavish homes, I began to feel indignant. I want that lifestyle, that comfort, those azaleas.

We can bat around several valid reasons why that outlook is poorly constructed. Those people have probably worked hard for what they have. I assume that their life is ideal - they might have struggles I can't even fathom. Also, their blessings may have come with a hefty price --- at the cost of relationships or, in some cases, personal ethics. These reasons could be true, but the real reason this thinking is wrong is because I'm focusing on what I don't have rather than that which I do have.

My meandering drive that day ended at my home, where my children greeted me with sticky-fingered hugs. There were piles of laundry yet to be folded but also a doting husband who also had started dinner. Our roof doesn't leak, and our cars safely shuttle us to and from the homes and places where we are loved by friends and family.

We may have holes in our socks, but there is always food on the table.

As believers, we might not have every material possession we desire - that is not something we are promised - but we do have something infinitely more beneficial: God's presence in our lives.

"[G]ive thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thess. 5:18, NIV)

Email Jamie H. Wilson at faithmatterssumter@gmail.com.