My family and I moved to a different house a couple of weeks ago. There are very few things I really hate, but moving is definitely one of them. I hate packing up all my stuff, I hate leaving a house and neighborhood I love, I hate hauling heavy boxes and furniture, and I hate sorting through tons of boxes to find what I need to work after we’ve moved to the new house.
One question I kept asking myself during the move was, “Why do we have all this stuff?!” Don’t get me wrong, we’re not pack rats and we usually only shop out of necessity (as opposed to shopping because it’s fun or entertaining). I just kept wondering why we were lugging so much stuff every time we moved. It was really troubling to think we paid for so much stuff that was simply being stored in the basement or attic. It pretty much sickens me to think that Americans have more stuff in storage than what the rest of the world owns COMBINED.
During the move, my wife kept bringing up really good “What if?” questions. “What if God calls us to…” and “What if God asks us to give…”
What do “What if?” questions have to do with owning too much stuff? Everything! What if God calls us to overseas missions? What do we do with all of our stuff? Something tells me that Paul did not have a bunch of junk in a self-storage unit as he spread the gospel across Asia Minor.
What about the cost of all this garbage? I wish I could get my money back for every DVD I only watched once or every book I never read or every accessory and trinket I thought would make my life so much better. That money could have gone to sponsor a child or take that mission trip I said I couldn’t afford to take. An even sadder situation is when people can’t afford to give or go because they’re strapped with debt. An over-sized car payment or maxed-out credit card can seriously hinder a person from being available for God to use.
It really is a brilliant demonic strategy if you think about it. “Let people have all they want until they’re too buried by possessions to be able to go when God says go.”
I believe that God wants me and my family to be in a position to be used by Him. He wants us to be ready. I have a friend who sold his house and moved into an apartment just because God might call him overseas. That may sound extreme to some, but when God calls, he won’t have to spend a year getting rid of everything before he goes. I know some people really take issue with this kind of thinking. They’re thinking, “I worked hard. Why shouldn’t I enjoy lots of possessions? I have a standard of living to maintain!” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “We should be far more concerned with our standard of dying than our standard of living.”
So what are we going to do about it? I’m going to issue myself (and you, if you choose) a challenge. I’m calling it my “Down to One Challenge”. What does that mean? It’s simple; if I have three boxes of something, I’m going to narrow it down to one box. For instance, I have several boxes of things I’ve filed away for ministry purposes. It’s time to scale back to one. Do I really need to keep all those catalogs, old conference notes, and brochures “just in case”? I also have tons of camping gear (I’ve gone once in the last three years), collectibles, and music gear too. Some things I’ll give away like I did here. Other things I’ll sell. And some of it will go to Goodwill or in the trash.
It’s not about being anti-stuff or taking some vow of poverty. It’s about living without the trappings of too much stuff so we can be available when God calls.
So how about you? Are you in? I’ll be posting my challenges here on this blog and it would be great to hear your thoughts.