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Idols of Beauty

Becky was excited. It was always fun when Mama’s friend, Miss Darlene, came to visit. Becky pulled out her favorite Bible story book. “Will you read me a story?” she asked. Soon they were both sitting in the big easy chair, reading about the brave prophet Elijah.

“Why did the people worship idols?” Becky asked suddenly. “They aren’t even real. I wouldn’t pray to a silly old statue!”

Miss Darlene smiled. “You wouldn’t? But what if everyone else did?” She pointed to the picture. “Everyone wanted the king and queen to like them, so they did what they said.”

“Were King Ahab and Queen Jezebel popular?” Becky asked.

“Yes,” Miss Darlene said. “And do you think they liked what Prophet Elijah said?” Becky shook her head. “You see,” Miss Darlene continued, “believing in God instead of idols isn’t always easy. There are many other idols besides Baal, too. Even our money or clothes can be idols, if they are more important to us than God is.”

“Let’s finish the story,” said Becky, wiggling impatiently.

That afternoon Becky walked through the fabric store with Mama and Miss Darlene. All around her were beautiful things to look at. There were bins of brightly-colored ribbons, stacks of fabric rolls, and a rack of shiny buttons. She was admiring the buttons when she heard a clinking sound behind her. Becky turned to see a tall girl taking some sparkling bracelets off of a rack.

“Don’t you think my little sister would like these?” she asked her friend.

Becky watched as the other girl tried one on. “Yeah, they’re really cute.” She held up a golden hoop with pink and purple crystals on it.

Becky sighed. It was so beautiful! When the older girls went to the cash register, Becky went over and touched the shiny bracelets. I wish I could have one, she thought. But Mama was calling and Becky had to leave them behind.

As she followed Mama and Miss Darlene through the store, Becky thought about the bracelets. Maybe I could have one for dress up, she decided. Mama says we should be plain and simple, but I could wear a bracelet when I’m pretending to be a queen. Queens always wear jewelry.

The more Becky thought of the idea, the more she liked it. While Mama was talking about fabric with the sales lady, Becky wandered back down the isle. She had one dollar and 58 cents in her purse. It wouldn’t cost that much for one little bracelet.

“What are you looking at?” asked Miss Darlene.

Becky looked up quickly. “Aren’t these pretty?” she asked, pointing to the sparkling hoops on the rack.

Miss Darlene tipped her head. “I suppose, but not nearly as pretty as a cheerful smile. That is the most beautiful thing any girl can wear. What would you want a bracelet for?”

Becky fingered a silver band with purple jewels.“For dress up. Just to wear for being a queen, you know.”

“For being a queen?” Miss Darlene opened her blue eyes wide. “What sort of queen? Like Jezebel?” “No, a good queen,” Becky said. “Like Queen Esther.”

“Why would a queen wear a bracelet?” asked Miss Darlene.

“Because it is pretty.”

“But don’t we all want to look pretty? Why don’t I wear jewelry?”

Becky looked up at her friend’s smiling face, and shrugged. “Because you want to be plain and not get attention?” she asked slowly.

The blue eyes twinkled. “A good guess, but do you know why I don’t want to focus on making myself look pretty?”

“Because God wants you to,” Becky said in a small voice, looking at the floor. She was surprised to hear Miss Darlene laugh.

“It’s not all that terrible!” she said, putting a finger under Becky’s chin. “Look at me, dear. Do you think that I am sad because I don’t wear jewelry and fashionable clothes?” Her voice was filled with merry chuckles and Becky sighed as she shook her head. But how could it be possible to not want such pretty things?

“You know, bracelets are really just cheap beauty,” Miss Darlene continued on. “You buy them and wear them, but it doesn’t make you a truly beautiful person inside. And the inside is what counts. Even diamonds and gold are just a waste, because Jesus told us to store up our treasures in heaven.”

Becky’s eyes wandered over to the button rack. “These are cute,” she said, pointing to a pair shaped like little ducks. “Maybe I could buy them.”

“Buttons are useful,” Miss Darlene agreed. “What would you use them for?”

“Oh, something for my doll,” said Becky. “Maybe a little dress.”

“Do you have fabric for a dress?”

Becky shook her head. “But I could buy some. Come, I’ll show you my favorite. It is really soft.” She led the way to the back of store where the flannel bolts were stacked. “See? Isn’t it pretty?” She held the duck buttons up next to a sunny yellow print, covered with white daisies.

“It is very cheerful,” Miss Darlene agreed. “But you won’t need much fabric for a doll dress. Why don’t you look through my scrap basket when you come to my house next?”

Mama came around the corner. “There you are,” she said. “Darlene, what do you think of this green plaid for a dress?”

“Light, but practical,” Miss Darlene said with a smile. “I think it is a good color on you.”

Becky looked at the card of duck buttons in her hand. “I wonder how much these cost?” she asked aloud.

“You don’t need buttons,” Mama said. “Put those back, Becky.”

Becky walked slowly back across the store again. There were so many wonderful things, and she couldn’t buy any of them!

She found Mama and Miss Darlene looking at some blue denim. “This will be perfect to make you a new jumper,” Mama said, smiling down at her. “I think I have some leftover yellow print to make a summer blouse, too.”

Becky didn’t say anything. A box of coats stood nearby. She pulled out a pink one with a white fur trim. It was much nicer than the dark blue one she had been wearing all winter. “Look, Miss Darlene,” she said. “I think it will fit me.”

“But you have a coat,” Miss Darlene pointed out.

“I like this one better,” Becky said, stroking the shiny pink front. “Mine is kind of old.”

Miss Darlene squatted down beside her. Becky looked into her friend’s kind face. It was serious now. “There are a lot of things you wish you could buy, aren’t there?” Miss Darlene asked.

Becky nodded.

“And we keep saying ‘no,’ don’t we?”

Becky nodded again. Her green eyes filled with tears, and she blinked hard.

“The problem is that you are wanting more things, Becky. It is called being ‘covetous.’ Do you know what the Bible says about being covetous?”

Becky shook her head. The soft fur trim on the coat brushed her cheek.

Miss Darlene voice was low. “It says that being covetous is like worshiping idols. When we love to get things and think that they will make us happy, we aren’t loving God like we should. Remember how we were talking about idols this morning?”

Becky frowned. She remembered.

“It is easy to want lots of nice things like everyone else has. But the truth is, you’ll never be happy with getting more things.”

Becky looked at the pretty pink coat. “Maybe I can get it for my cousin,” she said.

“I don’t think she needs a coat, honey,” Miss Darlene said with a smile. “I’m glad you are thinking of others. But what matters right now is whether you are going to be a I-want-to-get-more-stuff person. Are you going to let ‘beautiful things’ be your idol, Becky?”

Becky looked at the floor.

“Let’s pray that God will show you how these things aren’t what make you happy,” Miss Darlene said, pulling her close. “God has something much better than bracelets and coats for you. It is the beauty of a thankful, trusting heart.”

At last they were leaving the store. Becky watched as a dark-haired lady passed by the parking lot, pushing a baby stroller. Her wrist sparkled with silver bracelets and bright beads decorated her shirt, but there was no smile on her rosy lips. A little girl followed slowly behind, stopping to pick some daisies growing near the sidewalk.“Hurry up!” the woman said sharply. “I’m not waiting on your dirty face.”

Becky shrank back from the unkind words and hurried to join the others. “That lady isn’t very nice,” she whispered, slipping her hand into Miss Darlene’s. “I’m glad my mama never talks like that!”

“Yes,” agreed Miss Darlene. “I’m afraid that lady has been worshiping the idol of selfishness, and it isn’t making her very happy.”

“Or very pretty,” added Becky.

“Frowns are never very pretty,” Mama agreed, as she started the car. “And I want to tell you, Becky, that I’m glad that you listened and obeyed while we were in the store. That makes me happy.” She smiled at Becky in the rear view mirror, and Becky smiled back.

The sunlight sparkled on the wet grass as they turned into the driveway at home. Miss Darlene laughed. “Just see the diamonds God has sent us!” she said, twirling Becky around. “Doesn’t He make everything beautiful? This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Becky looked up into Miss Darlene’s twinkling blue eyes, and it seemed like she saw some of God’s diamonds sparkling there.