Lent: Day Twenty-eight

Saturday’s are usually work days around our house and today is no exception. Since we are having a house sitter while we go to Las Vegas as well as having our neighbor help us out with the animals, we wanted to do more than a surface cleanup and dig down to some of the necessary “this needs to go” level of spring cleaning.

We are all collectors to some extent, but some of us are real pack rats responsible inventory builders. Who knows when we will need all those old lamps, even though they have no antique value and have collected dust in the attic for years and years? And binders, you just never know when we will be able to find a use for all those old DEC and IBM binders that have had their innards chucked out. So what if we have several dozen old empty binders slowly warping in boxes (you know, the slow inward curve that being empty fosters).

Might have been
might still yet be
who am I not see
the many possibilities.

One of the most important discoveries about life, ALIMHO, for those maturing into reasonable adulthood, is learning that living is an endless series of tradeoffs and value judgments. I once read an interesting science fiction story (title long forgotten) about a world where the richest persons were those who were freest of possessions and the poor had everything and subsequently were tied down managing it, and were in essence slaves to their belongings, getting to do very little of what was truly interesting in life.

Christians have an even stronger reason to travel light in life or at least to have a well organized travel train. In Luke 22:35-36 Jesus talks to his disciples about the difficult days ahead, following his arrest and crucifixion. He says:

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.

There obviously are times to travel very light and times to travel well organized and well prepared. Yes, I understand that this admonition needs to be taken in context, but at its root Jesus’ words demonstrate an important principal that all Christians need to take to heart.

Since we never know what God might call us to do, we need to make sure we are not too encumbered by anything we don’t really need, that might hinder us or prevent us from responding to God.

In today’s world, especially the United States, that is a real problem. “More and better” is the watchword and waiting for almost anything goes against the grain. “New” and “just released” catch our eye and challenge our pocketbook. I used to be at the tyranny of the television schedule. If I wanted to watch or be a regular viewer of a television program, when it was on decided my time commitments. Video taping was a pain and took time to setup and manage. TIVO rescued me from that, but in doing so it created a newer monster; because I can save a program I am tempted to, and just because a series is on, do I need to watch it, at least this week, or this month, or even this season?

Last year I missed the beginning of 24 and decided to wait until the DVDs came out the following year. Then, using Blockbusters’ mail service, I watched the whole season on two weekends. While looking over the TIVO schedule the other night I had a bit of an aha! experience. Within two or three years everything on TV will eventually be available for on-demand viewing, years later even, not just next week or next month. I won’t have to miss anything that I decide I really want to watch, I just won’t be caught up in the immediacy of the moment. I can be free to choose without pressure what to spend my time on.

Yes, I won’t share a cultural experience with a large group of my peers, but then limiting one experience opens up others, which can be extremely important to a blogger and Christian. If God has a plan for our lives, and I believe he does, does it include being tied to the television on an arbitrary programming schedule (even stretched out by TIVO, not to mention how much we should watch at all) or does he expect something different from those who are essentially defined as ‘holy” and “called out”? I believe he expects something different.

So, what we possess, both physically in the stuff that clogs up our every available storage space, and spiritually/mentally by what clogs up every moment of our time and attention space, speaks volumes to God about how committed we are to him and to buying into his plan for our lives. I fully suspect that the house cleaning and possession lightening we have begun will continue and even expand to a reassessment of everything we do and commit ourselves to. After all, when Paul suggests to the Corinthians that they examine and test themselves to see if they are indeed in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5) I don’t think he precluded examining our physical, spiritual, and mental spaces along with our doctrine and decisions concerning sin spaces.

Please, do not take this suggestion as a judgment on how you live your life, only has a call to enter into a dialog with God about what you should do with what you have and how much you should retain to allow you to live out the plan God has for you. In closing, it might be useful to remember the words of the author of Hebrews:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Grace and peace to your day and may God bless you as you discuss with him what your future course of action should be.