When I met my husband, everything I owned fit into one purple backpack. We lived for a time in his pick-up truck, camping out in Walmart parking lots, with minimal belongings. And we were happy.
A couple years later the unfinished basement of our first home was filled with junk, items we had kept just-in-case, gifts we had no intention of using, things we found at thrift stores and just-had-to-have. Overwhelmed and unsatisfied by the things we had collected, we embarked on a journey to give away over half of our belongings. We dug through drawers, emptied boxes and totes, sent piles of stuff off to charities. We fully embraced the less-is-more life.
And I believe strongly that a simpler, minimalist, less stuff-filled life is an act of worship in response to the gospel. The same God who made provision for us today made our neighbour in His image. The God that gave us our daily bread instructed us to share it.
But at times, I confess, I looked for more from that simple lifestyle than it could provide. When life felt chaotic and out of control, I would look around for things to purge. I was too often trying to fix internal chaos by controlling my external environment. It didn't work.
Friends, decluttering is great. Living with less, giving generously, holding loosely to the things of this world, is a genuine response to the God who desires our hearts. But it wont bring us peace. It won't soothe our souls. Because when it comes down to it, we are still relying on the quantity and quality of our belongings to make us whole. And belongings, no matter how mass or sparse, cannot to that.
Whether we hoard items or give them away, the temptation can be the same - to put our faith in our own ability, our material world, our curation of the right set of belongings, to bring us peace. It's still about stuff. It is still setting our hopes and comfort on created things rather than the creator of all things. It is materialism, wrapped up in a sparser bow. As long as our focus is on created things, we will miss the maker of all things who beckons us to himself.
Please friend, keep decluttering if you are so inclined. A simple life of few possessions is a great goal. Giving away our excess to those who can use and enjoy it? That is a beautiful way to practice love. But if we are hoping to find peace in those empty corners of our home, trying to stir up some life changing magic by sorting through our stuff, we will be left disappointed and dissatisfied, time and time again. Because nothing short of god can satisfy, not full cupboards, nor empty ones. Just God alone.
"Let's search; let's pray; let's get quiet. Let's learn the wonder of silence. Let's learn the beauty, the secret of seeking after God. With our Bible open before us and our knees bent, all alone in humility and penitence, let us cry, "Only God, Only God and God alone! Take the world, but give me Jesus!" Will you do that? We need it in the church. We all need it. May God grant it in Jesus Christ our Lord." -A.W. Tozer
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