Trending Topic: #OptOutside
The retailers all gave a collective look of angst and anger at their crazy cousin—REI, the Seattle-based outdoors store. REI made an announcement this week that shocked the capitalist-crazed business world—they would not be open on the notorious Black Friday. Nor would they be opening at like -2 o’clock AM (otherwise known as Thanksgiving Day!). They are refusing to be a part of the craziness at all. Period. No stampedes. No road rage in the parking lots. No cursing over the last flat-screen TV. Just a calm, quiet blacked-out, doors-closed store—empty of workers, who are instead spending time…doing what?
Well, REI has suggested something in the form of a hashtag: #optoutside. As fits an outdoors store, they urge their workers and their potential customers to instead spend the day outside—hiking, climbing, skiing, snowshoeing (if you’re in Florida), or swimming (if you’re in Alaska). Do whatever you want—just do it outside.
And I say, “Amen!” Spending time outside is a much-lacking and much-needed factor in the lives of Americans, who are getting fatter and fatter in front of the TV as the leaves get prettier and prettier outside their windows. Jesus was not a couch-potato type of guy—He spent most of His life outside and employed almost entirely “outdoorsy” imagery for His parables and teaching—wheat, seeds, farms, fig trees, birds, and flowers. Jesus loved the outdoors—He made it after all!
On the other hand, Jesus did NOT love materialism. In the same passage where He employs outdoorsy imagery, Jesus talks about not laying up “treasures on earth” (Matt. 6)—a place not known for the preservation of objects. Moths eat and thieves steal. Cars rust and paper tears. Flat screen TVs shatter—including the one you got for half-off on Black Friday. Our “stuff” will all go away. Unfortunately, so will this Creation. The outdoors are great and all—but they don’t last either. So if we’re going to use Black Friday for something greater—for the glory of God that will outlast this life—we’ve got to look beyond merely opting outside. What will last? How can we use that day to influence eternity?
- Spending time with people.
People’s souls will, after all, last for eternity. Too often, we focus so exclusively on the stuff that we ignore the people around us. People like whom?
- Family—make it a family day! What a concept—spending time with family. Isn’t that what the days off are for? Work doesn’t let you out just to watch the game. School isn’t cancelled so you can buy the latest video game system. The understanding—at least in time gone by—was that you use the days off to enjoy family time. Your kids won’t stay young forever—and neither will your parents, if you haven’t noticed their graying heads.
- The needy—make it a ministry day! Something my uncle said his family used to do when he was a kid was to invite a needy person from the community to participate in the festivities of the family. A homeless guy down the street that you often see. Somebody from one of your ministries—a single-mom and her kids. Invite them over for the big dinner and the day after. What a concept! Obviously the world has changed since those “good old days,” and caution must be used. But the world is not so much different after all—there are still needy people all around. The poor will always be with us.
- Spending time with God.
God will of course last forever. And time spent with Him is always unwasted time. Maybe you don’t have a family. Or a small one. All the more reason to use the day off to spend extra time studying the Word. Even if you have family, spend time together praising God and meditating on His blessings in His Word and in your lives this past year. Thanksgiving doesn’t end on Thursday. In fact, we could use the extra day on Friday to praise God—we could use every extra day in all of time to praise God, and we still wouldn’t exhaust His blessings. As the song so aptly puts:
And on that day when my strength is failing,
The end draws near and my time has come.
Still my soul will sing your praise unending—
Ten thousand years and then forever more!
So yes, by all means opt outside. Just take some people with you! Opt outside…yourself! Opt outside your own selfishness and opt to spend time with others. Opt outside even your family and invite the needy in to enjoy the day with you. Opt outside even this earth—opt up to the Father who’s blessed you beyond your ability to praise Him fully!
Don’t make Black Friday yet another day wasted on selfishness and greed. Join REI. Join your family. Join the needy. Join God in unending praise to His glory.
Opt outside yourself this Black Friday.
Bless the Lord, O my soul—
O my soul!
Worship His holy name!
Sing like never before, O my soul—
I’ll worship Your holy name.