Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Starting Over?

"Don't you have to start all over again now that you have a house?"
"What do you mean?", is my response.
"Didn't you give away everything?"
"We don't need anything."
There are still folks who think we are crazy. They chuckle when we tell them we have purchased a house. Why did we give away our furniture only to buy more 8 months later? What about the stuff we liked so much... the beautiful crystal plate we received as a wedding gift, the shells we collected on our trip to the beach, the scribbled on scraps of paper from the kids? The answer is very simple. God told us to. In order for us to be where He wanted us to be, we had to let go of the stuff that cluttered our lives. Let me be clear here. It did not simply clutter our home, it invaded the sacred parts of our lives.
Have you ever said to your child, "Don't touch that! That was a gift from Aunt Marge!" (Feel free to substitute your favorite aunt's name.) Not that there's anything wrong with protecting the family heirlooms, but we tend to make them holy objects. We will shed tears for a broken vase with family connections, or spank our children for scribbling on grandma's journal,when we left it sitting out in plain sight and in close proximity to the crayons.
Letting go of the things that we have gathered throughout the years is not necessarily easy. Some of us feel that our "things" are useful, and that makes them harder to part with. I kept a quilting frame under my bed for 2 years. It could be a wonderful tool for someone, but not for me.
And now that we are unpacking the few boxes of things that we kept, I don't miss anything that I gave up. I sometimes fondly look back on the old rocking chair that I rocked my four children in. It was patched from tornado damage, stained, and quite unattractive, but the most comfortable rocking chair we ever owned. I am glad it is gone. I let this inanimate object have a very special place in my heart and gave it honor that no object is worthy of. It sometimes is difficult to understand why people would honor wooden gods, but in light of the love I had for my ragged old chair, it is not so difficult to understand.
"Thou shalt have no other gods before me" takes on new meaning when we look at how we treat our stuff. Our stuff was a false god. We took care of it, chastised our children for mistreating it, taught them why it was important to us and what it did for us. That kind of treatment should be reserved for our Creator and Savior, not Aunt Jean's wall art or a light fixture that Janette Fritolio helped us pick out the year we were married.
What did God do for us? Aside from taking on our sin and shame, being brutally beaten and murdered, rising from the dead and extending his salvation to an undeserving world of Gentiles, He is also working in our everyday lives. He asked us to give away what we had, take up our cross daily and follow Him. Obedience is not always easy. God has given us more than we ever could have attained on our own. The junk that we gave away was nothing compared to the spiritual gifts we have obtained through our simple act of obedience. Six people living together and loving each other in a 34' RV sounds impossible. With our spare time, we made a habit of not only reading the Bible daily with our children, but also praying as a family. We played music together (not necessarily well, but we had fun and praised God in song.) I am difficult to teach, but God even taught me to wait on him, be more patient, and humble myself in a relationship with my mother-in-law. Not that I always did that, but I am better at it than I used to be. That is a post for another day.
God has even allowed me to keep one of the small treasures that I had saved for years. As I unpacked a box of photo albums last night, I found a pair of socks that each of my newborn children wore. I had never thought of them since they were packed away and if I had thought of them, I would have assumed they had been given away. I thank God that every now and then, He blesses us with a small physical gift.

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