For several reasons I’ve been thinking about things, stuff, junk; you know the things we think we have to have or add to our lives even if we really don’t have the money or even if we do. For years, I accumulated stuff. I collected guns, musical instruments, antiques, Humble Oil memorabilia, CD’s, and books.
Several years ago I started feeling the need to get rid of stuff, to downsize. It felt urgent and I didn’t respond as quickly as I should have. Two years ago, it all became clear that my life was about to take a major turn and the things I had gathered around me, that overflowed two large offices would be of very little value to me going forward. Some things I sold and some I gave away. Still the amount of stuff haunts me at times. I wish I could simplify even more.
Why do I feel this way? This feeling was exaggerated greatly at the time of my father’s passing as I and others sifted through his stuff and prepared to get rid of it. I still do a fair amount of funerals for people from all walks of life and every time I am reminded that we take nothing with us. All the things that were so important and the things that we held onto as though we would have them forever can become so meaningless with one diagnosis of terminal illness. That diagnosis changes every priority. We look at people, our time, our desires with a far different perspective.
It’s hard to put ourselves in the place of someone with the knowledge that death is impeding but in reality that is all of us. We are all going to die and the things we have invested our time, talent and resources in will take on a very different look. Nobody will celebrate your stuff.
What prompted all this today you may ask? I came across a GoFundMe opportunity for a church that is touching broken and hurting people on a daily basis. They are actually involved with people outside of a Sunday morning service which is sadly rare today. As I pondered my own ability to respond I thought of all the stuff that we collect and gather around us for whatever reason. The financial decisions that are made daily with little consideration to biblical principles or that we are to be strangers and pilgrims on this earth just passing through not settling in as though we are going to be here forever. I thought of overflowing basements and barns, garages that don’t hold cars, the need for rented storage units in America and closets stuffed full of stuff.
I am a victim of the American need to have too much. I try to fight it. I’ve tried to be responsible but I am not very good at it. I want to get better. I will get better. I will find a way to unbuckle by self from the American consumerist treadmill. I don’t have to have more and I don’t have to have period. I’m reevaluating big time.
Americans this year will spend billions of dollars on stuff.
65 billion on soda, 40 billion on lawn care, 34.6 billion on gambling, 30 billion at the Dollar Store, 25.4 billion on professional sports, 17 billion on video games, 16.8 billion on Easter, 16 billion on chocolate, 11 billion on bottled water, 10 billion on romance novels, 1.5 billion on over-the-counter teeth whiteners. Not saying these things are wrong but in light of the needs around us in our world it is hard to justify our lifestyles. I realize my not buying a bottle of water won’t help anyone but it might help someone else if lived in such a way that enabled me to give to others and not always be about helping myself. For perspectives sake let me tell you that 1 billion seconds equals 31.69 years. In other words, if you spent a dollar a second 24 hours a day 7 days a week it would take you almost 32 years to run out of money.
When I die, I hope there will be actual people that can testify that my life has made a difference in theirs. That my sacrifices made going forward will enable me to touch lives in a completely different way. I have a lot of ground to make up. I shutter to think of all the sermons I preached over thirty years when held up in the light of God’s evaluation of effectiveness and true ministry. If I understand the bible at all it’s about figuring out how to decipher God’s word and priorities in a world that embraces the complete opposite. It’s figuring out how to live in this world without being part of it. It’s understanding God’s priorities in light of the fact that those priorities are not much a part of the normal Christian culture either. It takes a huge effort to changes one’s world view; to see the poverty and brokenness around the world and around us. Poverty of body, spirit and soul is everywhere.
What can I do? How can I respond? How do I influence those around me in my life to view things with a biblical focus instead of a cultural focus? It seems almost impossible. I guess it will be by trying to live it out myself. I really want to be a giver and help others.
Maybe this will be helpful. Look at your stuff . . .think about the world around you. Think about what you are going to wish you had done with your time, talent and treasure when you are facing the end of your life and standing before God some day. Let His words take over your life and respond to the call of authentic discipleship. In other words, really follow Christ no matter what others may think and be prepared because they may think you are crazy.
When I woke up this morning a song from my past was rolling through my head. It was written in the late 1800’s and is entitled Satisfied. One verse includes these words:
Poor I was, and sought for riches, Something that would satisfy,
But the dust I gathered round me Only mocked my soul’s sad cry.
For a little scriptural adjustment I reread this today as well:
“. . . Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?
27 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.
32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Luke 12:22b-33 NLT
I want to invest in heaven . . . and oh by the way if you want to help the church I mentioned in this blog here is a link: https://www.gofundme.com/churchoncomo Sadly this “gofundme” has been set up since 2014 and has yet to raise over $3000 in this account. If you want to support a 24/7 ministry why not jump on board with this one? It’s a good start.