Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Treasures worth investing in

I could only be a minimalist under duress.

Reading "The Joy of Less" by Francine Jay, I'm struck with the weight of our stuff. We are taught from childhood to trade ourselves for items we don't need, whether for their use or beauty. Jay talks about "the freedom of living with just 'enough' to meet our needs."

We covet things, save to exchange our lives for them (time=money), and fill our homes with them. Then we have to clean and maintain them, push them around to make room among our other stuff, store them when we're weary of them, and finally dispose of them. (Or if we're unwilling to do that, our kids or executors are stuck with the chore.)

The first time I remember distinguishing between the beauty that enhances my life and a house full of "pretty things," I was listening to professional organizer Peter Walsh. He was trying to explain to a hoarder that precious items should have a place of honor. That every thing was not important or worth keeping. But in the blank expression and distress on the person's face, I saw the same initial incomprehension I was feeling. Wasn't all the stuff I had pleasing to me? Useful? Or at least pretty?

As a follower of Christ, I'm obligated to keep my heart free from the love of acquisition. I'm not permitted to tie myself greedily to things. Jay asks in her book, "If someone offered you a great job [/ministry] if you could move across the country in 3 days, how would you respond?"

Would you or I:
  • leap at the opportunity, thank God, and pack a few boxes?
  • spend sleepless nights and days packing and sorting ... and fretting?
  • decline because there's too much stuff to consider moving?

I had to think about that. This month, God has brought one thing after another along to encourage and help keep me moving. Some evenings there is more on the floor than I started with. The heaps of things turned out of drawers and surfaces come and go.

Bathroom during cleanup
(I love to read in the tub; I hate to
store exercise clothing in the closet)
Bathroom after
(books put away; clothing
hung on hooks, ready to use)

I've barely started but the weight is lifting. This home took 35 years to fill. Four children have grown up here and their residue lurks in the basement along with other forgotten treasures and junk.

How would I think I can sort and free myself from the clutches of memorial waste in a month, baring a catastrophe? I can watch people lose everything in an instant via BBC and Japan News. On my monitor, people run from war and floods and earthquakes with only their clothing and a small sack of belongings. Why do we think that could never happen to us? That we could never live without our possessions?

In contrast to the things we've been trained to value, what does God tell us to fill our lives with? Truth, wisdom, discipline, good judgment, relationships. Those cannot be taken from us by feast or famine. These things will remain.

Back to work, then!

Read more:
*Get the truth and never sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment. Proverbs 23:23

*God is wise in heart, and mighty in strength—who has resisted him, and succeeded? Job 9:4

*Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 NIV

*Who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Romans 9:20

Moravian Prayer: Mighty God, thank you for being available for us; forgive us when we fall and come short of your glory. Father, we ask for a fresh anointing on souls today, that we may experience your Holy presence in our lives. Amen.

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