Personally, I think they are useful and thoughtful when given to others, but have come to find that usually, the personal items would end up in the trash can soon after. I mean what am I going to do with a snorkeling set from Maui when I get home to Nashville?
I've also noticed it's not just on vacations when we have the opportunity to buy things we really don't need.
Recently, I went to the McDonald's Circus with my wife and six children (two of my own and four friends) under the age of six to celebrate my daughter's 6th birthday. I had never been to a circus before, and I must confess, never will go again without extra parental support. It was quite the adventure. There are a lot of distractions going on when you first enter the building. Not to mention the amount of time and patience it takes, escorting six children to the bathroom.
Children, bless their little needy hearts, become the targets for potential sales at these events. For example, they see a clown walking up and down the aisles with oversized balloons floating and glistening through the air with the greatest of ease and turn to the man with the cash and say in a sweet adorable voice, "Daddy, can I have one...PLLLEEAASE!!?" Then all of a sudden they see hundreds of glow in the dark flowery objects across the stadium, that look so cool that they can't live without it. I look into there little eyes and say without hesitation, "No!!"
I know what you are thinking. I'm very selfish and mean. After all, it was her birthday. But let me explain. First, I'm trying to discipline my children by not buying them every little thing their little hearts desires. I spent almost a hundred bucks just getting them into the circus. Secondly, though two of them were mine, the other four were not and I couldn't afford getting everybody one (that sounded good). And thirdly, and most importantly, I had been watching the other parents who had given in to their children's plea and I was noticing the parent, after five minutes or so, holding the balloon in one hand and the glowing flowery whatever in the other hand. And then to my amazement, I saw the child pointing to yet another man with cotton candy for sale. But, of course, He was too busy selling six cotton candies to your's truly.
The point is, whether you are a 5-year-old at a circus, or a man in an electronic store, or a woman just shopping, our flesh sees cool things and immediately thinks it has to have it. It 's going to change your life as you know it. Most of the time, it just changes your account balance.
Which brings me to the reason I share these stories. I had been writing for my latest record, ==Godspeed==, and I had taken some time out one evening to pray to God. I wanted a sign from him to know that he existed and that I was on the right track. I said "God? Are you there? Cause I'm here. God?" After and hour or so, the silence was too loud, so I went to bed discouraged. Questions filled my mind. Was there really a God? Why doesn't he talk to me so I can hear? All I wanted was a little sign. You know...like an angel appearing in my fireplace saying in a monotone voice "Michael, I am with you always." But nothing.
Soon after, a friend came to me with a lyric to a melody I had written. He had already written another lyric to it, but felt the spirit leading him to write something else. The name of the song was "Souvenirs." He told me there are times when you call on God for something, and sometimes get nothing for your answer. You begin to doubt he even exists. In those moments, he said to go to the room called remember and think of all the times God has moved in your life and in the lives of your family.
I began to look back to the time I ran to a church I had never been to before out of desperation. I was abusing drugs and alcohol at the time, and I worked as a bar manager at a club in Miami. I felt death all around me. Loneliness was my companion. God used those dear Christian people to encourage me and they challenged me to get out of my situation and get right with God. Soon after, I quit my job. And months later, I was singing in a Gospel group proclaiming Jesus, with the woman that I would soon marry.
I remembered watching my daughter come into this world. How helpless I felt, but how relieved I was to see her take her first breath, knowing that it could only come from my Creator. I was exhausted and nervous as I held her in my arms, but thankful that the Lord had protected her and my wife from any harm.
The list went on and on, until I had to stop because of so many precious moments of God's hand moving in my life. God had used a friend to answer a selfish prayer. It was as if God himself were saying to me that I didn't need a sign. That I needed a crash course in remembrance. The signs are all around you. I am with you. I will never forsake you. You are my child. Don't put your trust in the things of this world, but store up your treasures in heaven and great will be your reward.
Now I'm not saying that buying a souvenir on a vacation is from the devil or buying a balloon for your child will make you hell-bound. But I think it's good to know that these materialistic things will only bring temporary satisfaction. It's the relationships and special memories which are etched deep within your heart that will become so dear to you. Life is a gift.
So the next time you're feeling that God isn't listening or questioning if he even exists, maybe you should go into your home built souvenir shop and just...remember.