After the first full day of unpacking, Hubby and I were amazed and embarrassed that our belongings filled a large moving van. How can two people have that much stuff? The kids had cleaned out most of their belongings; the rest of it was ours, accumulated over the last 18 years we’d lived in that house. Actually, it was almost 33 years if you count the hurricane lamp and the rocking chair we bought when we got married. And if you count his boxes of college textbooks and my personal history crate, containing things like my favorite stuffed animal from childhood, we’ve been accumulating these things for several decades.
I guess after half a century, I shouldn’t expect the paring down process to happen in a couple weeks or a month. As I unpack and sort, it’s easy to set aside the things we haven’t used in a year or two. Those will have to go. It’s harder to part with things that hold sentimental value. But even there, I’m learning to ask myself, If the house burned down tonight, is this something I’d miss? Most of the time, the answer is no.
How appropriate that Oswald Chambers’ meditation for that particular day also spoke of prioritizing things. Using the text where Abraham bound Isaac on the altar, Chambers acknowledges our fear that God will require us to give up our life, that He expects us to die for Him. Chambers says this is wrong. God calls us to be a “living sacrifice.” He relates this to our common belief that God wants us to give up things. But God doesn’t want us to give up things just for the sake of giving them up, he argues. Instead, He wants us to get rid of anything that holds us back from a close relationship with Him. Mr. Chambers calls it “loosening the bands that hold back our lives.”
Do my possessions hold me back from a close relationship with the Lord. Maybe, maybe not. Right now, they do feel like a weight I’m carrying. The more stuff I have, the more time I must spend caring for it, protecting it—and the less time I have for Kingdom work. It’s a slow process, but I expect a new sense of freedom to emerge as I grow intentional about the things I allow to remain in my life. And maybe the lighter I learn to travel, the more adventure God has for me!
What criteria do you use to decide what to keep and what to get rid of?