Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sight Unseen

by Barbara Early

Now that Thanksgiving is over, the holiday shopping season begins in earnest--not that it even waited for Thanksgiving to be over this year. It seems as soon as the turkey is cleared off the table, thankfulness is forgotten, and the mad dash to accumulate more stuff begins.

Now, like most people, I do buy gifts for a small group of family and friends--and I’ll admit to taking advantage of the markdowns to purchase things for the home, But I loathe crowded stores. So I’ve reverted to online shopping. Cyber Monday works great for me. I can sit in the couch in my jammies, steaming cup of coffee in one hand, while I click from store to store, department to department, filling virtual shopping carts. In a few days, a doorbell and a large thump alert me that the poor UPS and/or FedEx man (yes, they have met in my driveway) has dropped another load. Since I live in a rural area, and it’s a drive to the stores, I figure it saves me both time and money.

The dining set from Amazon
Sometimes there’s a little trepidation buying things sight unseen. Will those towels be as soft as the reviewers suggested they were? (Yep, they’re great.) Will that inexpensive dining room set be as lovely and as sturdy as the picture and reviews say? (Absolutely--my largest sight unseen purchase to date, and it’s wonderful.) Will those energy efficient light bulbs arrive unbroken? (Not a chance. Mailed those shards of glass right back.)

I have friends who never shop online. Too dangerous, they say. They want to be able to see and touch and smell the items they’re buying ahead of time. And that’s OK, I guess.

Now, you might be wondering why I’m talking about internet shopping on a day when we generally blog about faith. I’m getting there.

In the New Testament, shortly after Jesus’ death, the disciples met in an upper room--to console each other and discuss the reports that some had seen Jesus alive. When Jesus appeared to them, they were afraid at first, but later joyful.

But one disciple wasn’t with them. Thomas.

And when the other disciples gave him the joyful news, Thomas’s alarms went up. Too good to be true. He said, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Something makes me think Thomas wouldn’t have made a good internet shopper.

When Jesus appeared to the group again, eight days later, Thomas was there this time. Jesus said to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.”

Now Thomas believed, but Jesus went on to say, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

See, faith isn’t seeing. Faith is believing even when you can’t see--especially when you can’t see.  2 Corinthians 5:7 says, "For we walk by faith, not by sight:"

Now, Paul wrote that to the Corinthian church. This was a Gentile church, and most people had learned of Christ second and third and fourth-hand. They’d never seen him or heard him, met only a few who had, and didn’t, at that point, even have a fully complete Bible to read about him.

And yet they believed--not only trusting Christ for salvation, but even suffered persecution for that faith.

Now it’s OK to be a little nervous while trusting God--if that even makes sense. God can help our unbelief if that’s what we want. But as Christians, we need to do a lot of believing sight unseen. We believe God exists, even though we’ve never seen Him. We believe Christ was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, never sinned, yet died for our sins--even if we never witnessed any of that personally. We believe we have a home in heaven waiting for us, even though we have only the vaguest of descriptions. And that Jesus will one day return for us, but we don’t know when.

But personally, we also trust him to guide our paths, to reign victoriously in our lives in spite of our circumstances, to help us deal with the difficulties of life and even deal with other people. We know He will direct us as we make decisions and He will comfort us in distress.

All sight unseen.

Question: Do you shop online or prefer stores? Buy anything Black Friday or Cyber Monday? And more seriously, what are you trusting God for?

Barbara Early grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and Scrabble. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, but her penchant for the creative caused her to run away screaming from the pocket-protector set. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy and sometimes a splash of romance. Her holiday novella, Gold, Frankincense, and Murder was released in e-book format from White Rose Publishing in December 2011. A three-book cozy series from Berkley (Penguin) is slated to be released starting in spring 2014 under the pen name Beverly Allen.You can learn more about her writing at


  1. I totally avoid stores and restaurants at least until the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Too many crazy people out there! I like internet shopping for smaller things, but I can't see myself buying anything big (a dining room set!!!) without seeing it. But that may change. I can't recall a time when I wasn't satisfied with something I bought online, unless it was damaged and had to be replaced, but those things happen from time to time.

    What am I believing God for right now? That I can get my current manuscript done and turned in on time and that I can get the next one done, too, and that it will be great and not just okay. I'm believing He will take care of an unexpected financial situation, too.

  2. I had such trepidation before shopping for a dining set online. The thing that finally sold me was that it was so much better rated than even the cheapest dining set at the furniture store I'd been shopping at--and at about half the cost. And I didn't want anything too pricy since the cats seem to destroy everything we bring in the house these days.

    Praying for the needs you mentioned.

  3. Well, I definitely needed this post today. Thanks, Barb. I am working on trusting God for the future, even when aspects of the present are dang difficult.

    I did a wee bit of shopping Black Friday, since my mom was here and her favorite clothing store was offering 50% off the entire inventory. The crowds weren't too bad. Then again, I didn't go to Target or WalMart or BestBuy. :)

    I did a little shopping Cyber Monday, too. Got a great deal on a Christmas present.

  4. The circumstances of today sometimes require more faith, I think. I find it easier to know that God has eternity under control than it is for me to trust him for tomorrow. Sigh.

    My gifts have started to arrive in earnest. I'm trying to wrap them as they come in--less peeking that way.

  5. A dining room set on amazon? Wow! And even more wows to know you bought it. Would I be skeptical if I said it looks like it would fit a doll's house? LOL. Kidding.

    Hubby wants a special tool set but was so discouraged because the only place he can get the one with the rechargeable kit, etc is from amazon. When I said, so? He said the shipping is ridiculous. I asked if he was looking at .com or .ca? He asked what I meant. I explained that the shipping from the Canadian site is reasonable. So he went to the and now he's happy again.

    Or he will be if I ever order the thing. EEps.

    Great post, Barb. Thank you.

  6. I'll have to see if I can post an actual pic of the set in my dining room. It is actually larger than my former set--which I had for over 20 years and which was literally falling apart.

    I think I've gotten my use out of Amazon prime this year, just in shipping. Especially during our house remodel. It's saved me countless trips to the department and hardware stores.

  7. Just lost my comment. Grrrr

    Faith is rather illogical isn't it? No wonder people think it is for the weak or stupid.
    But when its real and personal its hard to ignore. I have faith that there is a reason why I'm doing this writer stuff.

  8. Deb, I guess it can seem illogical. From a human point of view, I guess the early disciples were not acting very logically when they were willing to die for what they believed.

    And there's also a certain peculiar lack of logic to Thomas's doubt, as well, in that why would the disciples lie to him.

    But I think there is a logic to faith. (For example, seeing creation and inferring there must be a creator.) Interesting idea.

  9. I love shopping from home!!! Although I'm not sure that I actually bought anything on Monday. I found plenty of good deals though, and got almost everything with free shipping :) I actually had my kids send me Christmas lists with buy links.

    What am I trusting God for? I guess the biggest thing right now is the finances for my children's college educations.

  10. I like to shop online, Barb. I don't like crowds and avoid malls unless it's a necessity. I didn't do any cyber Monday shopping because I was to tired after work.

    I'm trusting God to bring me peace over a situation that can have a huge personal impact if it goes a certain direction. It's hard to not get caught up in worrying, so I'm trying to focus on trusting God.


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