Understand from the beginning that I am not in any way talking about food!
These are my thoughts on scaling down and simplifying my life…
It’s not just children who struggle with the “need” versus “want” concept. I grew up in an average middle class family with four children, both parents, and usually a pet or two. Dad worked hard his whole life to provide for his family and though we didn’t always get what we wanted, my parents always provided what we needed. Mom kept our home and was always there when we came home from school, providing a loving safe-haven. (Our friends always wanted to come to our house, and several of them called my Mom, “Mom”!”) Hindsight reveals very clearly how blessed I really was. I grew up a minority–not because of my race, but because I had both parents and a stable home life. Many of my peers would have gladly given up their material possessions to have their parents back together, their family intact.
Materialism has been and probably always will be a dangerous poison that plagues the human race. From the sin of Adam and Eve desiring the one thing God denied them, to a powerful king ordering the death of baby boys in a jealous plot to eliminate the Christ child, mankind has struggled with greed and selfishness. I’m thankful for my heritage and pray that my children and grandchildren will have less of a struggle with this temptation than others in this generation. It seems society is constantly telling us that our happiness is tied to our possessions.
Why is it, exactly, that we value the “things” of this life? For some its security, for others a sense of worth. Scripture is clear on this issue:
Because my husband and I had four children and lived in houses with little storage space until about 6 years ago, I was pretty good about cleaning out closets every season, deciding what could be handed down and what needed to go. It’s funny that my girls (who are 3 years apart) would get in arguments over who had the others “stuff”, but when it got handed down to them they no longer wanted it! Maybe it was because when it was handed down it wasn’t exactly something different?! :0)
Isn’t that just like us, though? We go about the process of accumulation, only to find ourselves wanting the next “thing” as soon as we cross another off our list. I decided long ago that I would give more serious consideration to the purchases I make, and try to re-purpose when possible (even if my family didn’t like it!)
I truly believe that God changed my heart in more than one way when He called me to take my first overseas mission trip. One of the things He opened my eyes to was how incredibly blessed we are in this country. I didn’t choose to live here in America–I was born here. In those countries I visited on mission trips: Poland, Romania, Peru, and Africa, the people didn’t choose to be born there, either–but God, in His providence, knew exactly where we would be, and sees us right where we are.
His desire is that all of His creation depend on Him for everything:
“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his heightby worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34
I know for some of you this begs the question, “Then why is there so much suffering in the world? Why are there children starving in Africa?”
I think Charles H. Spurgeon, a well-known preacher of the 1800’s said it best:
God gives us the freedom to choose–His desire has always been that we would choose to follow Him. Not only did He provide a way, through His Son, (John 3:16), but He gave us His Word and His Spirit to guide us. Once that decision is made, the question becomes, “What does that look like?” and “What do I do next?” The first steps include reading the Bible, prayer and worship; the more we learn, the more we will understand who He is, and we will want to follow Jesus’ example. His mandate is that we “go and tell” this truth. We carry with us a God-given responsibility to speak the truth and live it out in our own lives.
I know what you’re thinking. “Telling God’s story doesn’t feed those children!” You’re right, it doesn’t, and the thought can overwhelm us. The truth is, that’s why I support ministries that work together to help meet some of those needs. There are lots of good organizations out there that are committed to making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than us. Our denomination has agencies that sends missionaries out all over the country–and around the world to provide disaster relief, and so much more. When we give, we help cooperatively to support them and in doing so, accomplish so much more than we could ever do by ourselves.
Realistically, we all feel like there’s so little one person can do. I don’t have a lot of wealth that could make a great difference, but I DO have more wealth than many in our world. That means I have an obligation, privilege, and right to do SOMETHING!
There are several ways to make that happen and one of the most practical is to purge your house, like I did, of all the meaningless clutter.
I separate my “stuff” into four piles:
#1. TRASH!! This is only for things that are damaged or useless. ( i.e. If it’s stained and you can’t get it out, pitch it!)
#2. SALVATION ARMY or GOODWILL. They take clothing and household items. Check with your local donation center to find out if they take large items like furniture. We still practice the “hand-me-down” concept. My basement is full of baby items to be shared among future grandchildren! :O)
#3. CHILDREN’S HOME. We have a Home in the area that takes all sizes of clothing and small household items. They even pick it up! (If you can’t find something like this, most towns have donation boxes you can just drop stuff in!) Moms: let your kids help! It’s a great lesson on sharing!
#4. CONSIGNMENT SHOP. If you saw my earlier post, “Can We Make a Difference?”, you know I collect loose change for mission projects. You could do the same with your more valuable items if you want to collect $ for a specific donation.
Springtime is around the corner, (hopefully!) and the opportunity to do a little cleaning might just be your ticket to an exciting opportunity. Something that usually is a chore can become the means by which you can bless someone else. It might seem small, but it could be the beginning of a new attitude: one that says, I might not be able to do much, but I will do something!
I would love to hear your ideas!