I Have Too Much Stuff

So it’s midway through January and, like a lot of people, I’m already having to consider the hard-hitting truth of failed New Year’s resolutions.

One of my “resolutions,” so to speak, has been taking a serious look at my possessions and considering how I can minimize. To be quite honest, this is no easy task for me. As much as I know and believe possessions should not be our number one priority in life, I have so much stuff. Way too much.

I’m a bit of a pack-rat. And an impulse buyer. So naturally I have way more than I need and way more than I use. Every now and again I’m reminded of the trips I’ve taken overseas, where children ran barefoot through filthy alleys and dusty roads and houses were strewn together with scrap metal and rotted cloth. Do I seriously need all this stuff I’ve accumulated? But to be transparent with you, in the comfort of my American home that overwhelming feeling unfortunately often passes as quickly as it came.

Stuff isn’t bad. But when I have brand new clothes I never wear and multiples of things I don’t even use, it’s just too much, and there are other ways I could be using my resources.

I think a more minimalist lifestyle would help with a variety of things.

I would be a better steward of what I have.

When I accumulate tons of junk I don’t need, nothing is valuable. I can hardly keep tabs on all of the things I have hidden away in my closet or shoved in my dresser, so what does it really mean to me? If I get a little more serious about what I’m willing to spend money on or take the time to make, I know the things I have will be worth it and I’ll take better care of them. If I have twenty-seven coffee mugs (who, me…?) who cares if one breaks or I leave it on the floorboard of my car for three weeks? Having fewer “things” and only hanging on to what I really need and love would make me maintain what I have.

I would be better able to give to others.

Less money on useless extras means more resources for being generous. I truly believe that God blesses us that we could bless others. In Genesis 12, God calls Abram to leave his homeland and become a father to many nations. Verse 2 says, “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (ESV, emphasis mine). I am so thankful for the abundant provision God has given me, but I know it’s not just for me to sit on and hoard for myself. I know that the opportunities I’ve been given are there so I can pass on opportunities to others. If I spend all of my blessings on myself, there will be none left over for me to pour out to others. So why not buy less and give more?

I would be more willing to just go.

As you may have gathered, I feel a call to missions on my life.  Although I’m not quite sure what this will look like yet, one thing is for sure – it will require me to leave a lot of things behind. Whether relational or material, some things just can’t go with me. To follow Him, I will have to sacrifice, and I know it. That being said, it would probably make it easier on me if I had less to leave behind in terms of material goods. When it comes time to go wherever God is calling me, I don’t want to have to worry about what to do with copious amounts of stuff, or worry my family with having to store it! Whittling down to more of the basics would, I think, give me more freedom to jump on board quickly.

Like I said, getting rid of stuff isn’t easy. I’m sentimental and sometimes irrational and it can even be kind of painful. But it’s also necessary.

In order to actually carry through with this change in lifestyle, I’ve come up with a few points of action that I hope will get me heading in the right direction.

  1. Put 1+ item a week in a cardboard box to be given away when full.
  2. Wait two weeks before purchasing anything that isn’t a basic necessity (I would consider food, toiletries, and school supplies to be mandatory at this stage in my life).
  3. Give away doubles of things like clothes items, kitchenware, etc.

What kinds of strategies do you have to minimize? I’d love to hear!

 

 

Our Role in God’s Will

As college students, we are daily confronted with questions, the heaviest of which are often about the future. What major should I choose? Will I be able to get a job? Will I be successful? Will I have a family?

Many of us tend to ask, what’s God’s will for my life?

These are often difficult questions to answer, but what if they aren’t the questions we should be asking? Don’t get me wrong, I want the answers to these questions, and I’m sure you do too. I want to know that I’ve picked the right major or whether I’ll someday have kids of my own, and I definitely want to know what God’s will is for my life.

Lately, however, a new question has posed itself that has made me rethink the focus of all of the previous questions I’ve been prone to ask. What if instead of asking what God’s will is for my life, we ask “what is my role in God’s will for the world?

Last semester I had the privilege to take a course called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, and it really challenged the way I view my relationship with God, His will, and His Word. One of the major insights I gained from this class was that God doesn’t have to use me. But He chooses to. And while He lovingly gave us His Son to bring us back to Himself, it ultimately isn’t about us anyway. It’s not about my personal success, whether I make a lot of money, or even if I end up with a career I love. It’s about His name being praised among all the nations and peoples of the world. His will for the world is that the world would glorify Him.

Habakkuk 2:14 says, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Our purpose is to truly know Him and make Him known. And that doesn’t necessarily mean vocational ministry or going overseas as a missionary. But what it also doesn’t mean is spending our lives chasing something akin to the American Dream, hoping to find out what joys God has in store for us personally while neglecting to realize that our lives aren’t really for us anyway. The question needs to shift from an inward-focused desire to be fulfilled to an outward-focused desire to fulfill His purpose.

This of course is not to say that God doesn’t have individual plans for us. I truly believe He does. He gives us ambitions and talents and desires, but those plans He constructs correspond with His ultimate purpose to make His name known all over the world – whether or not they end up looking like the plans we had for ourselves.

We are all called to follow Him, abandoning what we must abandon and going where we must go in whatever way best brings glory to His name, that every tongue, tribe, and nation would stand in praise of Him.