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FIRST-PERSON: The real thing

OPELIKA, Ala. (BP)–I should have known something was up by the black blanket draped over the merchandise.

While combing the streets of Chinatown in Manhattan, N.Y., I spotted a petite Chinese lady pushing a wooden cart. As soon as our eyes met, she motioned for me to come over and view her goods.

She lifted the blanket just enough for me to see inside. There it was, the perfect gift to bring home to my children; a brand-new, shrink-wrapped video of the movie “Finding Nemo.”

I squealed and clapped as I explained that my children had been holding their breath for that movie to come out on video. Uninterested in striking up a conversation with me, the woman looked cautiously from side to side and quickly hissed, “Three dolla. Give me thee dolla.”

Astonished by the inexpensive price, I eagerly pulled $3 from my pocket and held it out to the woman. She snatched the money from my hand, yanked the blanket back over her cart and shoved off to find her next buyer.

When I caught up with my group, I bragged about the deal I had gotten on the video. “Oh, no!” my tour guide exclaimed. “You didn’t purchase that video from the woman pushing the cart, did you?”

Feeling my pride deflate like a balloon, I dropped my shoulders. “Uh huh,” I whimpered, sensing a lecture was coming. The tour guide explained that the videos were counterfeit and illegal.

Ashamed that I had broken the law my second day in New York, I tried to analyze my guilt away: A) I didn’t recognize the video as being counterfeit so I was an innocent victim. B) It was too late to take it back, so I might as well enjoy the purchase. After all, I did get a steal on it. Although I regretted buying an illegal video, I secretly looked forward to enjoying the benefits.

Upon returning home from the trip, I pulled the video out of my “I Love New York” bag and handed it to my kids. In explaining that I had brought it back all the way from Chinatown, I simply left out the fact that I could have gone to jail if I had been caught buying it.

We popped in the movie and snuggled together on the couch. The blue light of a blank tape illuminated the living room. Not only had I risked being arrested, now I had nothing to show for it.

Isn’t that just like the enemy? Satan lurks around waiting for an opportunity to lift his wicked blanket and entice us with his goods. Sure, they look appealing at first. He never lures us with unappealing temptations. He cleverly dangles a counterfeit of the real thing before us. When we take the bait and run, we later find that he has left us with nothing but empty promises.

We must be alert, lest we become easy prey for the great deceiver. Peter warns in Scripture, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We must be aware of the counterfeit joy that the “prince” of this world offers.

Let’s not seek after empty pleasures, but instead, pursue the genuine riches that are found only in Jesus Christ. As we delight in the promises of God, we experience deep, authentic joy. “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 34:7).

When we put our hope in Jesus, the light of His love illumines our lives with peace, comfort, and joy. Now that’s the real thing!
Ginger Plowman, author of “Don’t Make Me Count to Three,” is the founder of Preparing the Way Ministries for which she speaks at women’s events, parenting conferences and homeschool conventions across the country. Visit her website at www.gingerplowman.com

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  • Ginger Plowman