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Can You Hear Me Now?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

How Much is TOO Much?

The fact that we live in such abundance is sometimes startling to me. Some days it hits me smack between the eyes as I gaze upon the exponential growth of my material things as I leave the ‘hut’ in search of more stuff, better stuff, faster stuff, prettier stuff.

Recently I had a vision. God sometimes brings me visions and at first I may not understand “WHY”, but soon enough He begins to clarify things for me and my eyes are opened wider and wider until it begins to pierce me from the inside out.

In this vision, God asked me to physically bring everything I had bought for the past month and put it in one room of my house. Clearly I struggle with memory issues and obedience (no surprise there)…so I said: “God, get real! You can’t possibly expect me to remember what all I’ve bought for the past 30 days and put it one room?”

God was being “REAL”. He really wanted me to see, firsthand, how much stuff I had accumulated over the course of 30 days, both “needed” and “wanted” right down to “desired”. While I never did get it all moved into one room I began to think about and mentally inventory the STUFF that I had purchased over the past 30 days. I know there were things I either forgot about or felt didn’t qualify.

It was a very big pile of stuff, as you might imagine. It was OVERWHELMINGLY big. I began to think about things faster and faster as God reeled through the purchases with me. The whole thought process resulted in a pretty large mass right in the middle of my ‘envisioned’ floor.

Let me just review a few of them: clothes, furniture, paint, groceries, gasoline, car washes, gifts, décor items, garage sale ‘finds’, dinner and a movie x 2, scrapbook stickers and paper, beads, STARBUCKS, etc.

Then God asked me to review our checkbook for the past 30 days and highlight (in groupings) the things we had purchased. He has had us do this routinely over the past few years since calling us to pay off all our debt. I highlight in green our ‘giving’; in pink is décor, hobby, and ‘gifts’ (birthday, anniversary, just because); in yellow is school related purchases for Paul; in orange is food (both groceries and restaurants). There was a LOT of pink and orange.

Then I hear God remind me that ‘where my treasure is, there my heart is also’ (Matt. 6:21). So is my heart about eating out, movie at the mega-theater, and shopping for fun stuff? Apparently!

I have heard the arguments that some Christians make about being blessed with much…as God decides. I see how each week it seems I ‘need’ something. Needing something has become such a catch phrase that the word has lost much of its impact in meaning. I began to wonder what I had done “without” and when the last time I went without something I wanted, much less NEEDED.

On the heels of all this, which I was prepared to put to rest with just an internal lesson, I received an email from Jules who is participating in this ’30 Days of Nothing’ challenge in September. She has asked us to pray about our own consumerism and potential commitment to recognize the gross excess in which we live…daily! It’s really a bit of a Daniel fast of sorts and could truly be a conduit to healing the over-consumption we drown in daily.

Will I participate? Honestly…I don’t know. I can think of about 25 excuses not to, not the least of which is my own uncertainty of success in this endeavor. Could I really live ‘without’ for 30 days? Of course I know I could, but WOULD I?

Maybe this is a ‘non-issue’ for you all, but today as I reflect on the Thanks Tank, I can’t help but reflect on when/what I have gone without, to really understand thankfulness to a God who meets all our needs.

Have a reflective Thursday!


Aunt Murry said...

It's so funny-odd that you bring this up. I was reflecting on this the other day. I did not realize that Jules was doing this. I might participate. I was just looking around my world and see what I could do without. What I did in simpler times when I seemed more happy. Really makes you wonder

Thanks for putting it into words.

Morning Glory said...

This is such a thought-provoking subject. I want so much to be a good steward of what I've been given and not just pile on more and more. Since we moved 8 months ago and consciously downsized our living space, I've been so much more aware of what I have vs. what I normally would just buy, and wonder if I really need that "new thing". It's been a good measuring stick in determining what's necessary.

I hear you in the pink and orange highlighting. It's just so easy to find one more thing to have. Good reminder, Kim, to find what's really important in our lives.

Spookie the Warrior said...

It is a difficult challenge. I have so many things I need - but can't get. And also being the only woman in the house - very often what I need is frowned upon... LOL!!!

tonia said...

Oh sister, I hear ya! These are all the reasons the Lord led me to "30 Days"...and believe me, my flesh will be complaining the entire 30 days! I'm a little frightened about what I may discover about myself during this fast!

Thanks for thinking and praying with me and the other participants.

God bless!


GiBee said...

My previous pastor always said you can tell where a person's priorities lie by looking at their check book and date book... Ouch!

Karen said...

Welll, that hit me between the eyeballs. Thanks for the reminder and the challenge.

R.G. said...

I don't think this could be a "non-issue" for many of us these days. I've been thinking quite a bit about this too, and I read the blog from Jules and was challenged. There's also a book about a woman who went for a WHOLE YEAR without buying anything unless it was a TRUE necessity. That meant not a single restaurant or Starbucks... no sheets, towels or shoes. It seems incredibly difficult. And the fact that it looks hard is what makes me think I definitely need to do something like that.

I know some people say that God blesses each of us with whatever He decides is right for us... but we will all be called to account for how we treated His blessings. Did we squander them on meaningless "things" or did we make a difference in the Kingdom?

These are the questions that really define Christianity and I'm glad people are talking about them. We live in a culture of extreme, unprecedented abundance and there are bound to be responsibilities attached to this.

Thanks for the wise and thought-provoking post.

Swandive said...

awesome post - thanks for the links and thoughts. 30 days. WOW. Praying.
Peace to you - also lurking - also so glad to find you. :)

Joy M. said...

Right there with what God has been dealing with me about lately. You have some really great insights on that same topic. My heart stopped when I read what you had to say about "where my treasure is". Another perspective on it that I am really going to hang onto.

thanks KP
still working on decluttering!!!!

Dawn said...

God does wondrous and mysterious things with your mind. You never cease to amaze me with your insights. You are gifted and blessed. Thank you.