Thursday, December 31, 2020

Reverse Costco Effect

“For we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you. Indeed, everything is for your benefit so that, as grace extends through more and more people, it may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God.  Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.  So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:14‭-‬18 CSB


Years ago,

When I was able to (gasp

Go to a store,

Load up a cart,

Unload it into my car,

Move the bags and boxes into the house,

All by myself,


In that time so different from my present,

An odd thing occurred

Enough times

That it earned itself a name.


In the vast chasm of a warehouse,

I would add to my cart some throw pillows,

A doormat perhaps,

A box of frozen chipotle black bean burgers.

Among the lofty rafters

Where a helium balloon would be lost forever,

Among the aisles long enough to cheer

Any fitness tracker,

The things in my cart seemed perfectly Goldilocks in size,

Just right.


Somewhere between the store and home—

Did I pass through a magic portal?—

Those perfectly normal items transmogrified.

When I brought them inside,

They were too big for the sofa,

The freezer,

The front porch.


How had this happened?

We finally concluded

Context was key.

The warehouse dwarfed the purchases,

Making them seem smaller than they were.

Our home shrank the context

And expanded our perception of size.

An elephant overwhelms a powder room

But finds room to roam on an African savannah.

This phenomenon we dubbed

“The Costco Effect.”


These last few months,

One idea I’ve been preaching to myself,

Overwriting the false story with the True,

Is that the Bible presents a reverse Costco Effect

Regarding our sufferings.


The sorrows which seem,

And indeed are,

So great and overwhelming

In this tiny house,

One-person tent

Of a life,

Can truly be called “light and momentary”

By the apostle Paul

(Who had endured more than I)

Because he had seen them in the third heaven,

The vast landscape of eternity,

That indescribable,

Incomparable weight of glory.


“Therefore we do not lose heart,”

He wrote,

Because in the pages of our Bibles

We can see that invisible vista.

We can behold in words,

Through a glass darkly,

The shadowy pictures of how great,



The kingdom of heaven will be.


When we behold that reality

With resurrected eyes,

Walk the golden streets

With resurrected feet

And ankles that don’t need braces,

Sing praises with resurrected voices

That stay in tune

And don’t crack on E-flat—


When we trade our mourning for joy

In the presence of the Lamb

Our Savior—


Is it just possible,

That when we see the splendid sequoias

Sprung from the very seeds of our sorrows,

That we will fall on our faces

And regret

(If regret were possible)

That we had not suffered more?


Is it just possible

That the unbearable burdens

We struggle even to roll off our backs

Onto His

In this annus mirabilis

Will seem miniscule when

Dwarfed by their proper context?


Is it just possible

That gazing at that possibility

With eyes of faith

Until we can gaze

With eyes of flesh,

Will make firm our weak hands

And make strong our feeble knees

Even now,

So we can rise again when morning dawns

And keep treading

In the footsteps of our Savior?


This hope rooted in promise,

Anchored in truth,

Keeps me fighting for joy.

No tear will be lost,

No sorrow wasted,

But all are producing for us

An exceeding and eternal

Weight of glory

Beyond our best imaginings.

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