Tim, our third son, came to help us, his parents, organize for a move. As he surveyed the back porch, and saw things as far as the eye can see, mounds and mounds of things, that threatened to engulf us. Tim, with the advantage of height of 6′ 4” saw over the top, and soon had a bird’s eye view of the hoarding of ‘things’.
He emptied shelves of a variety of containers – glass and plastic – that contained screws, nuts, bolts, nails of various sizes that were in hiding. The resulting trash pile outside the door grew. Soon we uncovered the west wall of the back porch that remained incognito for the past 20 years as ‘things’ multiplied.
The next step was to make a list of what furniture that we could take to our new, as yet unknown, abode. Downsizing is a word that doesn’t begin to indicate the pain of loss of memories.
Years ago Mom made a wooden desk. I moved it to the back porch and looked at it carefully. I won’t have room for it in the new location. There it stood, an old friend, begging for removal of old paint, still sturdy, and filled with memories. I kept my pet gold fish in a bowl on the desk. Every day I fed my gold fish and talked to him, or maybe it was a her. I sat on the heavy wooden white chair and chatted with my fish. One day I came home from school and sat down on the chair. It seemed to rock a bit. Then I looked in the fish bowl and saw that the bowl was empty. The tale of death became clear. My gold fish liked to leap into the air, as if he was on a watery trampoline. He must have leaped out of the small bowl too high. I looked on the floor, and there it lay, near the chair leg. I cried.
Tim moved the desk to the curb in front of our house in the late afternoon. I watched. It was there in the evening. I wondered if I should rescue my desk. About 9 am, I looked again. My childhood desk had disappeared. A sense of loss swept over me, until I realized someone else would be able to enjoy my childhood desk.
Sometimes ‘things’ remind us of memories in times past – good or bad. But when ‘things’ crowd out the room for living today, when more storage is needed for ‘things’ as possessions need more space, then we ask, why? What is it about man that they want to hold on to and add to their possessions?
I am reminded of the man who said – “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.” Luke 12:18
Do ‘things’ symbolize riches and security for us? The rich man learned differently, for in this parable, his life was required of him immediately. Having plenty erases the need for trusting God. We forget that our riches are not earthly, but spiritual. Our security is spiritual and not the physical owning of the latest techno-gadgets, the latest in fashion or terrific appliances.
Acquiring ‘things’ is like an addiction as more is always required. Marketing appeals to this addiction and begins with cartoon-training of the very young. Our land-fills are overflowing with yesterday’s dreams.
Proverbs 1:13, written by Solomon, a very rich man, reveals an insight into – We will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder.
When our eyes are fixed on Jesus, they cannot be focused on our circumstances. (Pray Like the King by David Butts) How true. Jesus teaches us to rejoice and give thanks always. No ‘whiners’ allowed! So when this season of life seems overwhelming, I turn my eyes to Jesus.
Just reading these verses gives me peace and joy.
“Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.” Isaiah 12:5
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:11
“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3
One sleepless night, I read a stanza of a poem….Just when it becomes more than I can bear….Through the clouds, the Son-shine breaks through so fair….The water is too deep to swim…It is then I let go and I ‘let Him’!
My prayer – Turn my heart toward your statues and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Psalm 119:36-37