I just read a blog post* by a man I've never heard of, Garris Elkins, who wrote about a time when they returned from being missionaries in Europe. All they had at the time were the stuff in their suitcases, some books, and a chair in an attic...and as they stayed in the US their collection of stuff increased. But he recalled something they learned in the time when they had been so unburdened:
"Years ago we made a valuable discovery. We discovered that everything we would need to accomplish what God asks us to do we already carried within our hearts and spirit. This is what makes this life of faith so beautifully simple and yet profound. This life in the Spirit is not a cumbersome life. It requires no physical maintenance, storage or oil changes. The physical stuff that attaches itself to our lives is never greater in significance than the spiritual deposit each of us carries within our hearts."
It's a very freeing concept. And so true! How often I've thought of the people in primitive huts all over the world who can be happy with very little...and how much time I spend maintaining stuff, stuff and more stuff. One time when my husband's job loss put us in a very unsteady-seeming position (though God had it all in hand, but I have to admit that even though we'd been through that same thing many times before, and God had always proved Himself faithful, I was fretting more than ever otherwise in my life)...when all I could picture was us being without a home, without all our stuff. I didn't think of it as freeing then. All I could imagine was homelessness. If we were put into that position of losing our home, though, I hope we could look to God and see what He would have us do. After all, like Mr. Elkins says, "...everything we would need to accomplish what God asks us to do we already carried within our hearts and spirit." That is true of every believer, and in fact, the promise that tells us so is in 2 Peter 1:3-4:
"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire."
The beauty of what Mr. Elkins was saying is the free nature of a life in Christ, that we need not be hindered by much in the way of material possessions. (I say this with 25 fingers pointed back at me...well, 3 or so in reality, but if I had 30 fingers, at least 25 would be pointed back at me.) It makes me want to dive into our junk drawer...oh wait, that's a junk garage...and get rid of a good amount of really useless stuff. It's better than watching Hoarders!
But...that life is not maintenance free. It might not need anything in the way of painting, sorting, cleaning...but it does take maintenance. In fact, the passage that follows the above Scripture has something in the way of maintenance and building upon what God has started in you: 2 Peter 1:5-11:
"For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."That type of maintenance is the most rewarding kind...it is of an eternal, supernatural, attractive and beautiful nature, given by God, empowering the believer to better serve God. His ways are not burdensome...how beautiful is that! Well...I have a garage to clean...talk to you soon!