Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
People over things.
If you were to ask me, that’s what I would say. If I had to choose between the two.
I mean, of course!
Wouldn’t we all?
If you were to ask me this question a year and a half ago, that’s exactly the answer I would have given. “I choose people over things.”
Now, I know better…
This was right before a period of real struggle. A time when the world crashes down around in more ways than one and all the revelations come tumbling in at once. He opened my eyes and I’m forever changed and grateful. He took “the shackles off my feet so I could dance.”
My shackles were things. Actually things were just the beginning and I had no clue.
I didn’t have an amazon addiction. Or was unable to say no to a catalogue. It was the daily maintenance of slavery, to things that I already had, that clamped those chains tightly in place.
If an alien came down to earth and observed my behavior, they would observe me for the person I really am. Every chance I get, vacuuming the floors, picking up all the toys for the 101st time, and loading the dishwasher again and again and again. Meanwhile yelling at the kids and frustrated with the next mess. Feeling like the martyr that I am for yet another disaster on the floor.
Now let me stop here and say that all of these things are really important for our families and the care that is a privilege to give them. This is the call to serve and bless others with our hands and feet. How noble and beautiful to care for those most precious to us. This calling involves these important tasks to bless our most important people.
It’s not the job that’s the issue but the mentality. The mentality of slavery. Slavery to things.
I suddenly saw what the observant alien might see. My eyes are constantly on all the things. The things to do. The things to be done next week. The things to get done after work. The things to accomplish once the kids are in bed. The closets to organize. The dishes to put away. Toys to put in the basket. The laundry to be folded and dispensed. If that giant headed alien man could see inside my heart, he would see a whopping giant pile of THINGS.
Much to my shame. And I was enslaved to this shame too.
And I had no idea how enslaved I was because such is the frenzy of life. We know our own heart so little.
“Who can know the hearts of men but God.” 1 Kings 8:39
But God in His goodness knew and called me unto Himself and spoke kindly to me with the words I needed to hear. Not all of them yet, just the first few bits that I could take.
I’m going to pause here and say that whenever God tells you to do something and you know it’s from Him (and ofcourse not contrary to scripture), DO IT! Even if it seems unrelated to your greatest cries. Believe me. It’s just what you need.
Obedience in the smallest thing is the key to our biggest freedom.
Honestly, things were the last problem on my radar. Everything else seemed to need an answer more.
So much more.
I obeyed and started getting rid of things. All kinds of things. More trash bags of clothes than I would like to admit. That old sweatshirt from high school. The things I might need someday. The toys, keepsakes, extra towels, dishes. I kept going until it started to hurt a little. Then I kept going and got rid of more.
We are not minimalists and I don’t imagine we will ever be. But He knew that these things pointed to something much deeper. And isn’t it just like our heavenly Father to use the parable of our daily life to show us the state of our heart? The parts we don’t even know about. The truth behind our own facade. Sometimes we are so good that we fool ourselves most of all. Then we don’t know why we can’t stop crying or feel untrue to our insides.
Every time I held an item in my hand and asked myself the important questions,
“Do I find this beautiful or useful?”
“Do I love it or does it need to go?”
Even now I want to tear up as I see the application in the bigger picture of my life.
I saw the fear that gripped me (and still regularly does) in so many areas of my life.
As I got rid of THINGS, I saw the form of self reliance these trappings represent.
Will you really provide for me Lord?
Will you really keep me and mine safe?
Are you really looking after us?
If I let these things go, will there be enough in my time of need?
If I get rid of things, who am I apart from what I do and take care of?
Am I wasteful?
Am I being careless?
Am I a good mom?
Am I going to be enough and have enough for the unknown ahead?
I am trying. Trying so very hard because if I’m honest, I need a plan B in case you don’t come through. I’m going to be prepared. The fear is too great for me to rely on anyone but myself and the things I can control. Because, I CAN control things.
Again if you would have asked me, I would have said I trust in Him to provide for my every need but that’s not entirely true. Not just providing in things but in the areas of joy, peace, contentment, patience, kindness, love, hope.
Nope, I kept everything. Just in case.
Never getting rid of anything. Leaving out the most important possibility that can only grow with space. The freedom of trust. The freedom of God relying and not self relying. Where no THINGS exist but Him.
Every time I placed a THING of “I might need this someday” into a trash bag, I also cracked a piece of fear off my heart. And replaced it with trust.
With everything THING that I didn’t find beautiful, I replaced with the beauty of His Word that states his thoughts towards me of His goodness and care for me and the ones I love.
With the removal of every THING I no longer found useful, I removed the useless deposits of fear in my heart. Where I thought I was being cautious and wise, I saw the farce of self protection, false pride, and walking in my own strength. I saw the thing that I found most useful for what it really was. Fear was my tool. It got me where I needed to go but left me stranded once I arrived.
With every THING that I did not love, I replaced with His love.
Fear versus Love
You see, fear and love can very much look the same. There appearances are almost identical in fact. It’s only by the roots and the fruit that you can know the real story.
My roots of motivation were and had been for most of my life this slippery blood sucking leach of fear. It is from this compelling state that I have actually accomplished so very much in my life.
You can tell the difference between love and fear when the remainder is a short lived victory. The residue is defeat. The voice inside your head says, “get yourself back up girl, you’ve got a long way to go. You haven’t done enough yet.”
“Fear is a liar.”
It was with this realization that the clouds parted and I saw the sun for the first time.
This is what the motivation of fear looked like for me? I was afraid of:
NOT being a good mom……do that extra thing for or activity with the kids.
NOT being a good wife…go the extra mile to fit that picture in my head. You know. That lady with the dress, apron and heals on, supper cooked and ready, kids hair combed. Insert your picture too!
NOT a good christian woman and church goer?…..Over extend myself and our schedule.
NOT a good coworker?……Forgo asking for help when I should and take on others work even.
NOT a good friend?……Stay up too late counseling, answer texts during family time
The list could go on and on. I would do my best and work my hardest and it was never enough.
What was the fruit? Burn out.
Running like I am being chased. Lots of good things to show with no joy and peace to take home at the end of the day. Worst of all, I could see that more than almost anyone else, it was my kids who could tell the difference, the best.
In their naive and unpretentious ways, they were the mirrors to my heart, making the glass of my perfect projections crash to the floor. I could see it in their eyes. I so desperately and fearfully wanted to do everything right. But they knew the difference. What they needed wasn’t fear but love. I was herding instead of leading. And its showed.
We can literally be doing ALL the right things. It never was about the THINGS. It’s about our heart. But if we are doing them for the wrong reason, if we are driven by fear rather than love. Your fruit of joy will always come up short.
Fear births babies who don’t play nice. Here are a few of her children:
Loss of sense of humor
Short lived victories
Conditional love not just for others but most of all for yourself..
Love does not drive. It is not a hard task master. It leads. Gently.
“It leads us beside still waters. Its restores our soul. It leads us through paths of righteousness for His name sake.” Because He IS love.
Motivation out of love says. You are already redeemed, loved, and accepted. There is nothing more you can do or be to earn that. I have called YOU to your place: in this vocation, as a mother to these children, single for this season, wife to this man, leader in this ministry, friend to this person. You are already enough. Listen to my voice and follow. All will be well. I have called YOU.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
“And a stranger they will not follow” John 10:5
So whatever THINGS you have. Lay them down. Give them back. Set them before Him.
Many times the struggle with giving THINGS to God is that we are afraid we won’t get them back. This is actually probably true. The most important part of giving up our THINGS is not the sacrifice but the transformation of trust and relinquishment that happens when we do.
We do not miss what we do not have. And we won’t miss freedom if we have never experienced it.
It is worth the price. The price of ALL the THINGS.
God’s economy is very unlike ours. You will very likely not get back what you have given. But you WILL receive MORE.
And your definition of more will change too. It will not be dollar for dollar or THING for THING. The price we pay is EVERYTHING. For freedom. After all, He paid it all. He bought the world for a high price. The highest price. The THINGS are already his anyway. Are you ready to lay down your THINGS?
Because really in the end….the deeper revelation is not about THINGS anyway. It’s about trust. It’s about freedom.
It’s about Him.
“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone given in exchange for their soul?” Matt 16:26
He’s got my THINGS.
And He’s got me.
If you’re willing, He’s got your THINGS. He’s got you too.