You might recall that I've been reading a book by Jen Hatmaker, 7: an Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. Ms. Jen and her family do a series of seven "fasts", one each month. One of those fasts was over possessions. They committed to give away seven items a day for a month. That would be 210 items out the door, if you do the math.
By the end of the first week, Ms. Jen had given away 202 items just from her closet alone, so she did some adjusting to their numbers. By the end of the month they easily hit over a thousand—and still had items to give away. She wrote, "The volume created a pit in my stomach I can't shake."
Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:19–21).
Yeah, we rich Western Americans have invented "a thousand shades of gray" in those verses. It's amazing the excess we justify in our lives.
Our family did our own purge when we moved to San Antonio. We actually started when we were considering the move to Panama, but our smaller house here made the job a necessity. I took many trips to the Goodwill donation station down the street, and it felt SO GOOD to get rid of stuff that I hadn't used in years and knew I might not ever use again.
But still, we have a house stuffed with stuff. As we were preparing for some folks coming over the other day, I had the fleeting thought: what would a complete stranger think about us just from coming in and looking at our house?
Well, they would know walking in the door that we watch a lot of TV. We have a very large screen, and all the furniture in the family room is oriented toward it.
They would also suspect that we are book fanatics, because we have bookcases full of books all over the house. That would be partially true; I'm a book fanatic. Books are my one thing I hoard—I just can't bring myself to give away a book I've enjoyed. It's a part of me, in a sense.
They might guess we do more formal entertaining than we do when they see the good china on display in the dining room hutch. (Yeah, we really should use that more.)
They might guess that my eldest daughter is more into clothes than she is. If they dug into cabinets, they might think we played board games more than we do (actually, we should play board games more than we do). They might wonder at the several bags of stuffed animals in the attic.
Even after a serious purge, we live in excess.
I am hoping for my family to have an opportunity to do a mission trip overseas one of these days. We could use some direct contact with real poverty to shake us up, I think. I remember a friend telling me about her daughter's return from a week in Haiti. She found her one morning sitting on the kitchen floor, with the doors of the refrigerator wide open, sobbing. "So much food . . . we have so much food!!"
Lord Jesus, have mercy on us—comfortable, fat, indulgent sinners.