My family and I leave for training for FOCUS in less than three weeks. We’ll be at training for five weeks, then we return home and have six weeks to fundraise our salary and pack up our house. With such crazy timelines, I’ve started packing now. The amount of stuff that we have is amazing to me. I can’t possibly imagine taking everything we own with us as we bounce around the country as missionaries for the coming years. As such, I’ve taken to purging and decluttering our house.
The closer we get to moving, the more I realize that we really don’t need all this stuff. What is more is that this stuff can – and sometimes does – distract me from God. I get so caught up in all the things we have, the gizmos and gadgets, that I don’t pray as much as I could or should. Getting rid of things feels really, really good. Not only is it comforting to know that we’ll have less to move, less to haul around with us, but getting right of things is freeing.
If I can go through our basement or the various rooms in our home and sell something, trash it, or donate it, I’m in essence saying: that thing doesn’t own me. It doesn’t control me. That doesn’t mean that the things we are keeping own us or control us, but it is wonderful to have the ability to detach from all of our possessions. This cleaning and purging forces me to take stock of what is really important. I frequently ask myself, does this thing or that thing bring glory to God somehow or is it distracting me from Him? Would getting rid of this thing or that thing free me up somehow? Could I be a better wife, a better mother, a better daughter without this thing? Have I used it at all in the last six months?
I read an article recently about a woman who goes on pilgrimages around the world – and has done so for the last ten years. She takes with her only a backpack, relying on the generosity of others for food and shelter. As a wife and mother, I can hardly imagine living out of a backpack, but the notion of being so freed from possessions sounds luxurious. Instead of being bogged down by all the things we own, we can – and should – be free to worship God because of, rather than in spite of, our possessions.
What would it take for you to follow what Jesus tells the rich young man in Matthew’s gospel (19:16-22)? If Jesus tells you to sell all you have to follow Him, could you do it? Or, like the rich young man, would you leave sad for you had many possessions? Hard though it may be, I’d rather leave my possessions to follow Him because to follow Him is our true purpose in life.