April 10, 2012

Contentment = enough for today

In the past year, I’ve given away boxes of books, cassette tapes, craft supplies, and dishes. Yesterday I purged my closet. A big box of seldom worn, ill-fitting, or “static-producing” clothes is in the garage, ready to go to charity. I will not miss them. 
My next project will likely be my stash of quilting fabric, not so much to give it away, but to sort it and make it easier to find what I need for each project. In reference to this collection of fabric, my hubby once said that I was a hoarder, but I showed him one of those shows on television about hoarding and he will never think that again. He had no idea that hoarding is far more than our accumulation of too much stuff.

I’ve noticed that purging seems to be important to this generation. Some of us have come to a point in our lives where we realize that we will not live long enough to use it all. Besides, if I’m not using it, I could be depriving someone else who actually needs it. 

Another issue is the burden of stuffed cupboards. I can keep most of the house clutter-free, but doing that means putting it somewhere. If I purging the excess, those crowded dressers and closets simply “feel good.” This somehow seems to free up my mind so I can focus on the tasks at hand. This feels good too.
This morning, I read these verses and see that the Word of God also hints at clutter management and the tendency of many people to have more than they need.
So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table, and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived. (2 Kings 25:29–30)
This man had been in prison. He “put off” the garments that signified that bondage and was content with a supply, from the king, of daily needs. The reading is a short quote from C. H. Spurgeon. It says, “One staff aids a traveler, but a bundle of staves is a heavy burden.”

Perhaps it is for this reason that Jesus told us to pray for our “daily” bread, rather than the weekly groceries. Too much stuff is a burden. He also said,
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25–34)
Whether collecting more stuff becomes hoarding or not, the very act of having more than I need suggests a thing or two about my spiritual life. Buying items on sale and stocking up the pantry makes sense when it comes to saving money, even saving shopping time. However, if this gets out of control and items go several years past their “best before” date, then that I am not trusting God to supply my future needs. A stuffed closet could suggest the same thing. I remember an Old Testament story about shoes and clothing not wearing out for years because God took care of His people. Do I trust Him with those daily needs? 

The Bible also reminds me that women are prone to go for “fine clothes” to adorn themselves, but God says a far more important adornment is a gentle and quiet spirit. Am I trying to make up for a lack in that department by filling my closet so I always have some adornment? What are my priorities?
The stuff in my house gives me lots to think about, but I cannot “self diagnose” whether or not I am sinning in having too much. I need to find out what God says. What do I do with having, spending, saving, purging? This requires another “daily” activity. 
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11)
The “daily bread” in the prayer Jesus’ taught could mean literal food, but it could also mean the food He gives from His Word, food that is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” that I might be “complete and equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17) 

Like the manna that fed God’s people in the wilderness many years ago, this food must be collected each morning and used each day. From each day’s reading, He gives me “rhema” or a “word” suitable for the needs of that day. Since I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, this is bread could have a definite shelf life. It cannot be hoarded.

Lord, for more than forty years You have given me my daily bread. Each “platter of food” speaks to a need in my life for that day. Your faithfulness is amazing. Also, I know that I cannot gather today what I will need tomorrow. There is no saving up or hoarding when it comes to spiritual food. Yet there is a sense where all that You have supplied accumulates. However, instead of becoming clutter and a bad thing, this becomes a foundation, a well-stocked and satisfying foundation for life. Just as I use bits of fabric to make a quilt, You use verses of wisdom to build my life and help me keep it sorted. Most of all, what You supply is to be used — for my good, the good of others, and for Your glory.

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