Sunday, April 3, 2011

Between You and Me / All These Things

Written January 25th, but just now being posted by Jolene, who gave birth to her 4th baby January 26th and is, only now, catching up with her to do list!

“But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

There are two occasions in my life when I realize how many things I possess: when I move, and when I travel. There is that tearing-myself-away feeling I have every time I pack for a trip. It’s only when I try closing my suitcase that I realize of “all these things,” something is going to have to stay.
Have you ever thought what you would grab if suddenly your house caught fire, or as in our case, you were to be in an earthquake? If you’re a young mother, your baby would be at the top of your grab list, I’m sure. But what about me? My purse would go with me, and then my Bible, probably in that order, I’m ashamed to say.
In fact, I’ve often wondered what I would do if someone stole my purse, or if I were to leave it in a public restroom. I don’t even want to think of the consequences of my neglect: my passport, my FM3 credential, not to mention drivers’ license, credit cards and debit cards. It’s quite a shocking realization, but who I am is contained in that black leather bag. WOW!
Several months ago, my daughter in law, Liz, and I were flying to Chicago from Mexico City. Just before takeoff, the pilot announced that our flight was being delayed (we had sat for 45 minutes on the runway) due to our over-weight plane. We watched as countless pieces of luggage were being towed back to the terminal from underneath our plane. My heart sank, as I thought I saw my luggage disappear out of sight. I felt lost, like part of me was being torn away.
See, things…all these things…are important to us, whether or not you claim to be a non-materialist. Material things are valuable to us. They help to make up who we are.
Many years ago when I had eight children to travel with, plus my husband, I watched a lady, who looked quite affluent to me, unload a single piece of luggage from the trunk of her car, and check into our hotel. I was ashamed at all the things that made up my security circle for the night…suitcases, overnight bag, ice chest, food boxes, stationery bag, Bible bag, diaper bag, diapers, portable crib, etc. Have you ever seen anyone go into Wal-Mart without a purse? I have, as I toted my oversized one of so many unnecessary things.
So this being still the first of a New Year, I’ve decided to part with the unnecessary, and keep “all those things” which are necessary. But it’s not coming easy, believe me. I’m actually “weaning” myself from them little by little like this:
Papers, which contain important notes I often have to refer to, I’m consolidating into fewer pieces of paper. Then I put them in a place where I won’t see them every day. In a few months, I’ll figure out the ones I haven’t referred to, and discard them…sorta like the “not-responsable-after-30-days” policy.
But let’s face it. There will always be “all these things” that make up our security area, our comfort zone: My Bible. There isn’t another one like it, so to say I’ll leave mine at home, and use another one available at my destination won’t do the trick. My Bible is just one of my “all these things,” like my prayer book, my diary (journal), my glasses, and even a certain perfume.
I believe we can come to terms with the “all these things” in our lives if we live by a simple rule: “If I take care of spiritual things, God will take care of my physical things…food and clothes.”
I’m a very black-and-white kind of person. I need to draw lines, and see things clearly. When I wonder what that could possibly mean, to “seek first the kingdom of God,” I can think of no clearer application, emphasizing the words “first,” and “kingdom of God,” as meaning simply this in language even I can understand: If I will devote the first part of my day to seeking God, reading His Word, spending time in prayer, and at the same time just literally putting to one side all my material concerns which could even include a daughter who is threatening to miscarry, a daughter in law who has a serious health problem, and focusing on God, He will honor my desire to seek Him early.
This is how I practically do this: when something comes to my mind, for example, when I’m reading my Bible, I just write it down on a little note pad, and promise myself to think of it later. In a very literal way, I’m putting this problem, this burden, or even a phone call, or something to purchase, to one side, until first I have sought the Lord, and His righteousness.
Matthew 6: 32-33 mentions the phrase “all these things” twice.
But there’s another “all these things” mentioned in Romans 8:37: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” All these things: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword. That pretty well covers it all. We are more than conquerors in all these things.
So while you’re resolving to clean out “all these things” in your closet or desk or kitchen drawers, how about your spiritual clutter? Worry, and negative thoughts, and jealousy, and envy. How about gossip, and a critical spirit, or discouraging words? Toss it out with stress, and depression and complaining.
Resolve with me, that at the beginning of 2012, you can look back over this year, and be on another level of your spiritual walk with the Lord. Let’s upgrade our Christianity, and as we get rid of “all these things” that clutter our closeness with the Lord, He’ll replace them with “all these things” that we have need of.
Have a Happy uncluttered New Year!

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