Periodically, I have an inner dialogue with myself (uhh…not sure how that works) where I ask myself if I’m getting too attached to my stuff. I’ve had that “conversation” a little more frequently since we had a baby and bought a house, and have subsequently been accumulating more stuff.
I feel like it’s important for me to take my pulse on my love for my possessions.
Now, I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with loving or feeling pride about the things I own (especially when I worked hard to create them). But, I know that for me, I never want to love them so much that I couldn’t let go or get rid of them if that’s what God was asking of me.
Why would God ever ask me to do that?
Well, things are things. They aren’t going to fill me up or give me purpose (although I may feel tempted to believe that for a little while, I eventually feel that longing for something more). They won’t last forever. I can’t take any of them with me when I die. So, I guess I wonder what’s the point in putting all my eggs into a basket that’s only for the here and now?
I’d rather put them into one that will last forever and ever and ever. Not to mention, a basket that also gives my life real and lasting direction and fulfillment. No comparison, really, when I think about it that way. I believe that’s how God feels, too. He’s the only thing big enough to satisfy my heart’s longings. And He’s interested in me storing up treasures that I can enjoy for more than a lifetime.
Recently, I was at a Bible study where one of the women was expressing her frustration with the way we Americans live. She felt like maybe it would be better if we all just sold everything and moved to a poor country to share Jesus. (My amazing brother and sister-in-law have done just that, sacrificing lucrative careers practicing medicine in the states to go and help those who could never otherwise afford medical care in the tiny country of Burundi. I have overwhelming admiration and respect for them.)
Would I be willing to do that if God was asking me? Even though it would be very difficult (on many levels), deep down I think I would.
I thought a lot about what she said, though. And as a disclaimer, let me just say I’m not commenting on what she’s supposed to do–that’s really not for me to decide. Also, moving to an impoverished country is not just a means to learn how to live without. But, I feel like maybe sometimes we (or I, at least) can glorify the idea of giving everything away, as if that would solve all of our problems and make us “holy”.
But, truthfully, it wouldn’t. I know that my self-centeredness, my tendency toward impatience, my difficulty forgiving those who wrong me could transcend the change in lifestyle.
If I moved to Guatemala to escape my character flaws, I believe I would just find them applied to new situations. I’m sure I could find a way to feel envy for something someone else has even if we both had next to nothing. It’s part of my wretched nature (that I’m slowly learning to shed).
That’s why it’s really not about the stuff. It’s about my heart, my motives. God wants to help me change from the inside, out. And if I held on to my stuff so dear, then He may ask me to let go of it. To help me change. Not because the stuff is bad in and of itself. But because stuff does have the potential (a very strong potential without Him intervening) to make me believe that all that matters is the here and now.
But, oh friends, the Good News is that there is much, much more than the here and now. And, because of the faithfulness of God, I can work at storing up my treasures for forever.