A Costly Collection

Our God is so very personal. I am always amazed at how He brings verses to me that I really need to hear. He did it again today! As a bibliophile, I have too many books, yet have a hard time departing with any of them. Each book seems like a friend, since we have learned, laughed and cried together. I need to go through my children’s lending library, which is already full—and I still have many books I would like to include! I must also tame my schoolroom, where books and project supplies are overflowing. I’m giving myself a pep-talk on trusting God in these tasks. Most of the items I part with, I will probably never miss. And if I find some in the future that I truly need, the Lord is able to provide them then. Despite the pep-talk, my heart was not in the project—until I had my quiet time this morning!

During Lent, I’m reading the daily devotionals from “Making Space: Welcoming God’s Presence.” This morning, I felt compelled to read two. Now I know why! Margaret Stoddard shared something her brother-in-law used to say, “I was happiest when I could fit all my possessions in the back of my pickup truck.” How freeing that would be! Imagine being able to literally “pack up and go” so quickly. I realize that my books alone would more than fill a pickup truck, front and back. Margaret continues, “As I have grown older and amassed a huge collection of stuff, I begin to appreciate the wisdom in these words. Possessions have a way of ensnaring our hearts and lives in ways we never expect. The single teapot becomes one of many that need a china cupboard to house them, then tea cups to accompany them. Next, you need a seasonal rotation of teapots based on colors and motif. Before you know it you have a collection that requires much more time and space than you ever wanted to spend on teapots. Like the man who built barns to store his surplus of grain, you are consumed by your abundance, finding you have little time to sit down with a friend and share a cup of tea. Isn’t that the point of having a teapot?”

 Hmmmm. Maybe I have so little time to enjoy my books because I’m so busy trying to organize them—or to find the ones I have misplaced in the piles. I had to laugh as I read another devotional from “Making Space,” this one from Gene Barry Chase. I totally understood his dismay in not being able to find something he had saved for years—his lost item was ironically a Bible study on simplicity. “I save things to show that I remember, to show that I care, to show that I’m accomplished, to help me to remember, to help me to care. But the lost Bible study on simplicity proves that I don’t control my things. My things control me. . . . I think of all the time that I’m investing in things, mere stand-ins for people at best. According to the Bible, only two things will last forever like God himself: people and God’s word.”

I ended my quiet time by reading Psalm 23. The first verse seemed particularly appropriate today, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” Like a good shepherd, the Lord provides all that we need. I am not in wantin need of—anything. Yet I want many things I do not need. I am thankful that the Lord sometimes says no to my wants. He cares enough to keep me from burying myself more deeply in the things of this world. So, I’m off to tackle some piles. May these lessons stay fresh in my mind as I consider what are truly needs, and what are just burdensome wants.

“Watch out, and beware of greed; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” Luke 12:15.


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