In my previous post The Right Place, I share about how I have been going on what I call a moving drill and making sure things around the home front are in the right place. As the post progresses, I share about how we need to have our hearts in the right place with God and to trust that He puts us in the right places each and every day.
Friday, as I was marking boxes to be carried out of here, I found it ironic that I received a preview to the magazine, Simplify Your Life (A Simpler and Happier Life). Of course, I am all about simplifying life anyway I can and I immediately began scanning the articles featured. These articles were tips of how to de-clutter your home, the best methods for de-cluttering, how to clean, reset priorities and setting a routine to avoid future clutter of our home. There were a couple of things in this publication I received that really struck a chord with me. “Clutter saps energy and reduces your ability to concentrate.” “Clutter costs money.” They explain how people will collect things from matchbooks, coffee cups (guilty!), stuffed animals, stamps and the list goes on. Yet, what really made me sit down and think was the statement; “Behind it all is an ancient need in everyone to identify ourselves with something.” For the first time, I realized that all the “stuff” we clutter our homes and lives with is really stealing our identity in who we are created to be in this world.
Not only did I receive this publication in the mail about de-cluttering the home, in Sunday worship the minister’s topic was “But Wait..” He shared how marketers use methods to convince us that we need certain items in order to have a happy life. As he shared this comment, I snickered to myself because my son is in the marketing/advertising business. The minister went on to share from his personal experience of how he had crammed “stuff” into his life. In other words, he rushed here so he could rush there. Our world defines success by how much we can do in a day, how full we can fill our calendars and how many hours we can stay awake to work from sun up to sun down. Yet, he learned the hard way that all this rushing from here to there, working unlimited hours only landed him in bed with an illness that took him a while to recover from.
Then, this morning as I was getting ready for my day, my favorite author, Andy Andrews was being interviewed. Again, the business of life was the subject of the day. Andy commented on how people who are suddenly diagnosed with cancer suddenly realize what is truly important in life. In other words, what the world of stuff says is important is no longer important What is important is hearing the birds sing, taking a walk with a family member or friend. In other words, it is the simplicities of life that become most important.
Think about what brings you true joy. Now, think about those “things” that are cluttering up your home. How much joy are they bringing you? Do they greet you with a smile when you come and go? Do they thank you for dusting them? Do they love you back?
Let’s take those questions a step further. Think about your daily schedule. Do you find yourself constantly on the phone? How many of those phone calls can actually wait? After all, ten plus years ago either you were at home or you weren’t. Or, your phone line was busy. You and the person trying to contact you survived didn’t you? How much time are you spending on Facebook, Twitter, and just surfing the internet when you could be reading a book, visiting with a family member or having family night around the table with a game?( Yes, I am writing to myself as I lists these questions.)
Okay, let’s go one step further. How much to do you rush here and rush there. You arrive at places out of breath and you can’t enjoy the moment you’re in because in the back of your mind you are thinking about the next obligation that is already on the horizon? When you sit down and think about all of these questions, you soon realize how much this “stuff” material and non-material are stealing your identity. I know it was an eye opener for myself as I put myself through this evaluation process. It is time we stop allowing “things/stuff” stealing our identity and take our identity back. Our identity is in our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. We are daughters and sons of the King of all kings! In our identity in Christ, we are encouraged to invest our time into people and into God’s kingdom. Remember the words of Christ in Matthew 6:19-21? ”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your heart is , their heart will be also.” Wow! Jesus didn’t beat around the bush in speaking to us about where our hearts and treasures should be.
Many times when we talk about collections/treasures we think we are investing in things that will give our children and grandchildren a heritage. But, in this same publication they said ”Generally, the beloved children declare that around 95% of the cherished items are not even things they would want. If this hasn’t happened to you, just ask a friend or neighbor!”
In all honesty, in looking back, the best treasures that have been given to me are being taught the importance of what it means to be a Child of God and to be in relationship with him. Then there are those treasures where people invested their time and themselves to encourage me, prayed with me, mentored me, and simply took time to be a friend to me. Other treasures are the times I have spent walking or riding through the mountains enjoying the artistry of my Master, just sitting in the quiet of my home and hearing the birds singing and children at play.
I challenge you to go through your home and look at your “stuff” and evaluate what it is doing for you. Evaluate your calendar, phone log, and how many text messages you send out in a day. How important are some of them? Could they have waited? Then, as you evaluate, ask God to help you see what is really important and get rid of the things that are not important. In this process, focus on God’s word even more. Trust me, as you do these things, you will be amazed at how much your perspective on life and priorities will change.
So, how about it? Isn’t it time you quit allowing “things/clutter steal your identity of who you really are? After all, you are a Child of God, Son/Daughter of the King! Go ahead, re-claim your identity in the Almighty! And, know that it’s the best treasure you could ever leave your loved one.
Last night, I began a new study with my Wednesday evening group. We are reading and discussing together the book The Good and Beautiful Life by James Bryan Smith. This the second of a series of James Bryan’s Smith’s books with the first being The Good and Beautiful God and the third being The Good and Beautiful Community. I read the first book, The Good and Beautiful God with my small group last year. In reading and working through this book with the group I gained a better understanding that our God is a forgiving God. Also, it was opportunity to examine the heart and understand God’s love and what he desires for all of his children. Just as I shared in my blog post Parachute Pants and Big Hair, God molds you and I day by day, event by event, and by placing many people in our paths along our journey.
After only reading the first chapter in The Good and Beautiful Life, I am excited about the adventure I am about to take in the weeks ahead in learning more about me and what real, pure joy means for me in my life. We are already examining the heart of how and why we make the choices we make each day. Do our choices reflect living a virtuous life or a life of vices and misgivings? Along with the examining of the heart and our choices, we learn more of the difference between happiness and true joy. Happiness is on the surface and can be temporary. Whereas, true joy goes deep within, it is eternal and it influences how we look at life and make the choices we make each day.
Before our session concluded, we were assigned to write a letter to God. We had to tell God what we wanted most in our lives. Below is the letter I wrote to God last evening and I wanted to share it with you.
The life I want most for myself is a life of knowing real joy, experiencing inner peace and experience
your love on a daily basis. I want to experience you in all relationships. I want to be your ambassador of sharing with others your love, forgiveness and your way of living a virtuous life.
Along with these things, I want most in my life is when I get up in the morning and look into the mirror that I not only see myself but I see a child of God. A child that God will not abandon but will be with me every minute of that day. In the evening, I want to be able to look in that same mirror and know that I did the best I could for you. If I messed up along the way that day, I will ask for your forgiveness and acknowledge that you will give me another chance.
God, what I want most in my life, is that at the end of my journey, when I meet you face to face,
I want to be able to look straight into your eyes and say; “I did it!” “I lived a life that shared your love and grace.” Oh, what joy!
How about you? What do you want most in life? When is the last time you examined your heart and the daily choices you make? Have you experienced that eternal joy? I encourage you to check out these books that are excellent reads and wonderful spiritual formation. Not only do I encourage to read these books, but I also encourage you to journey through them with a small group. Along with these suggestions, write your own letter to God. You don’t have to read the books to let God know what you want most in life.
“Each day we make decisions that move us closer to a life of virtue or vice. We face decisions whether to be greedy or generous, self-centered or self-sacrificing, condemning or forgiving, cursing or blessing. No Matter who we are, we must choose the narrative we will practice daily.” [Taken from The Good and Beautiful Life; page 27]
In my November 1 post He Will Have The Last Laugh (aprilhawk.wordpress.com/2010/11/1/he will have the last laugh), I wrote about how God had been tapping on my shoulder to write. I also shared how I kept telling God ‘not now’ and ‘certainly it is not me you want!’ But with time, I sat down and began to write. As I began to answer this calling, I knew I had to define my purpose of my blog site. So, came April’s Faith Thoughts which are to share the love and grace of Jesus Christ and encouragement. Jesus had called me to go beyond the walls of this front bedroom that I use for an office.
Each time I write, I come to God as an empty vessel and just simply ask Him fill me and use me. Along with that, I say a prayer that I may reach at least one person beyond the walls of home to someone who needs encouragement or a reminder that God loves them. As a result, I have connected with some of my readers who in turn give me encouragement and with other bloggers with similar purpose who I send encouragement to and they to me.
As time progressed with writing, reading other blog posts and posting comments, I wondered to myself if I was going beyond my walls and how far. Well, God answered that question for me when I received notice that I had a link drop in someone else’s post. Not only was it a link drop but it has become a friendship via the technology world. It was then, God showed me that I had not only gone beyond my walls but across the world! Koh Rebecca is a young lady from Singapore and is witnessing her faith in Jesus Christ. In her post True Happiness, (branchingbecky.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/true happiness) she simply reminds us that it is God who brings us through storms and He supplies the true happiness that we need in our lives. God empowered me to go beyond my walls and in return a branch was reached to me from Singapore.
Through this connection, God has brought a new friendship to me, shown how small the world really is and how amazing things happen when I allow myself to be His vessel. True Happiness does come from God. Yet, He brings extra joy and happiness when a branch from across the ocean reaches back to a little front bedroom/office in Owensboro, Kentucky.
Is God calling you to be His witness in a special way? If He is and you are putting Him off like I once did, now is the time to say “Lord, You are the vine and I am Your branch.” Who knows, there may be a branch somewhere out there just waiting to reach back to you.
- Philippians 2 (asorensen.wordpress.com)