October 7, 2012

Value systems

Yesterday’s trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains added a few hundred photographs to my vacation collection. The leaves have not reached their most spectacular display, but the higher we  climbed, the more color we saw. Later we learned that this park is visited by more people than any other park in the world. They come mostly in late October, by the millions. 

At the end of our trip, we happened upon a famous hotel where presidents and movie stars have slept. To me, that wasn’t as interesting as the way it was built. The stone walls are irregular and rough and it has a tiled roof resembling the thatched roofs of an English country cottage, only this place is no cottage. 

As we stood in the lobby, someone suggested we have tea there. I looked around at the money flowing and felt like tea would be outrageously expensive. All I wanted was something to refresh me, not the status of having tea where famous people have tea. When I said so, it seemed as if I’d thrown a wet blanket on the party. 

The others didn’t say anything though. The only voice I was hearing was my spiritual enemy giving me flack for speaking about my value system, or maybe for saying what I did about a worldly value system. The only reason I was vulnerable to his yakking is because I hate to make people annoyed with me, especially my family and especially when we were having a good time. Yet the beauty of the trip, at least in my mind, was spoiled by the status symbol of even looking at this hotel, as if it had anything over the treasure of the vistas we had just admired.

This morning’s verse is not particularly about this small incident of yesterday, but it does remind me of God’s faithfulness.
Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. (Micah 7:8)
I don’t think my enemy was rejoicing over me because I fell. It was more like heckling me because I had the nerve to challenge a worldly value system. However, I realize God’s value system is like a black tunnel in the minds of those who don’t know Him. To place the pleasure of rustling golden leaves and layer upon layer of blue horizons over rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous seems foggy to some, even somewhat childish. That I felt this hotel threatened to be a blot on our day would make some people think I was a bit off.

There is nothing wrong in building massive hotels or respecting prominent people. What bugs me is the idea that anyone is somehow made more valuable, even if just in their own eyes, if they can do something that rich people do. 

Biblically, the only way that can work is if my life somehow reflects the life of Jesus Christ, the only prominent person that matters. He didn’t care about fancy this or expensive that. He created an incredible universe by speaking it into existence. How can I be more impressed by anything else?

Lord, I am awed by Your creation. Even the best that man can do does not compare with the smallest butterfly, never mind the layers of mountain ranges and the fall foliage that we saw yesterday. Forgive me for the times that I have been over-awed by human achievement. Also forgive me for the times I have remained silent when others are carried away by the things that will not last. Most of all, thank You that when value systems become hazy or even dark, You are able to grant me light to see what is most important to You.

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