Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Life Unstuffed

Year 4-Day 9: Today, I am grateful for reminders to live life "un-stuffed". 

My Randy and I have been sucked into the "tiny houses" revolution for our television together time.  It simply amazes both of us that people can live in a space that small.  He grew up in some old, massive homes that held six kids with room to run.He experienced some smaller ones, too.  Bigger made things more comfortable. 

I grew up in a modest farmhouse built in the 1800's. When they added an indoor "water closet" before Mom and Dad moved was truly a "water closet". We add a "new addition" in 1976. That portion of the house will always be called "The New Addition" ... nearly forty years later.  That new part of the house allowed us to have our own rooms, a first floor bedroom for Mom and Dad and it added our beloved second bathroom with two sinks. With two girls approaching their teens, it meant everyone else always had a bathroom available. It gave us room for more "stuff". 

The tiny houses movement is "green" and creates mobility, and it leaves a smaller "footprint".  It is environmentally conscious.  Randy says it could work for us... if we had three.  One for him. One for me. And, one for all of my creative stuff. He is right. I don't see one...or three... in our immediate future. Still, we are glued to each episode and marvel when they make it work. 

We are products of a culture that is stuff focused.  I don't want to be chained to my stuff, but I am. What do we really need (outside of holiday decorations) in a box we haven't opened in six months? 

I am a scrapbooker, so I am inclined to treasure things in my grandparents handwriting and old pictures that tell stories or show relationship. Old pieces of furniture... with history and a few scars... are sometimes more beautiful than sleek, new modern decor. I like a marriage of the two, which makes me eclectic (big surprise?).  Perhaps there are some things that are important enough to take up some space...but there is so much stuff that is simply that...stuff!  

Oh, do we have stuff! We are not free from the burden of our belongings, but perhaps it is time to make some changes. 

This era is different from the ones our parents and grandparents lived. They struggled to have "enough" sometimes. Mom was allowed one glass of milk a day, because milk was for "the babies".  Dad wore hand-me-downs and knew the importance of saving for tough times like drought, hail and floods.  If a crop failed, you had to have savings to get through the next year. Credit...although sometimes necessary...was something to be avoided. Their generation valued enough...and "enough" was a place of contentment. 

Today, the messages in the media are that we deserve to have it all...and there are ways to get it.  Our value is determined by what we can accumulate. Our stuff has consumed us...enslaved us... and perhaps...we have forgotten how to live free. 

When I take these times...whatever generation we personally fall into from Baby Boomers to today's youth...and make some comparisons in scripture...there is always something to ponder.  

When Jesus called his disciples, he simply said, "Come" or "Follow me.". They dropped everything and followed...or they didn't.  People must have thought them crazy.  The cost of following Jesus was everything. (Matthew 8:18-22) Why?  What is the lesson to be learned? More likely, there are multiple lessons!

Love...committed love...nearly always requires sacrifice. The relationship outweighs the value of any earthly possession. In a marriage, love means she gets more closet space. She gets to park her car in the one car garage. He gets to sit on the couch until dinner is ready and rarely mops the floor. He magically finds clean underwear in the drawer and milk in the fridge. It may look different at your house, but you get the idea. Love says..."I will put your needs or comforts above my own because I want to...and it makes me happy."

Stuff...the stuff that weighs us down gets in the way of our being truly free to follow Him. It takes our time, our resources and consumes our thoughts. These things...they are mere things. They aren't wrong...just heavy and oppressive at times. They can interfere with our true purpose; to be in relationship with a God who created us to know him and to love each other. 

It gives new perspective to this verse:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

When we consider this scripture from Matthew, I don't think we are being called to poverty, but cautioned that it is extremely important to know who and what we value as we take our ride on this little blue planet.  It is our training ground for eternity.We are being warned to consider carefully what we love...for it will consume our hearts. 

This year...I want to work on getting "un-stuffed". Letting go of things that weigh me down and interfere with keeping first things first. 

Galations 5:1 "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."

Paul was addressing Christians...Jewish believers and gentiles together...who were arguing over circumcision. He reminds them of the freedom purchased by the blood on the cross. As humans, we often put up our own roadblocks and create ways to reject his grace.  Silly humans. We seem to self-create "yokes of slavery" even when we have been set free.   

1 Peter 2:16 sums it up nicely. "Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God."

"Live as people who are free" I love that phrase as a benediction. We are not to misuse what we are given...or the freedom that comes through grace. We are to live as servants of God. 

The warning from Matthew 19:24-  "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” is pretty clear. To take care of great wealth is considerable work and takes our time and attention. Money is necessary...but the love of money is destructive. Wise management matters.

Not wealthy? Not by USA standards, perhaps, but so much of the world lives in poverty. How much time, money and attention does our stuff consume. How much of it makes us feel heavy?  What things help us live free as servants of a living God? 

Well...this is not the road I started on today...but it is apparently where I needed to read. 

Today, I am grateful.. perhaps, not comfortable, but intentionally grateful...for reminders to live life "un-stuffed". 

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