I love my Savior. He’s so marvelous. His grace is matchless, His mercy is priceless, His love is unending. I’m so thankful that He is with us always, even to the end of the age. He never leaves or forsakes us, even when it appears He is nowhere to be found.

I was reminded recently of a moment with God that I had had more than a year ago. I believe I wrote about it in one of my brief devotional posts. I had awakened with the thought that we are all one catastrophe away from ruin. It wasn’t something that was pending or even imminent for me at the time, but for whatever reason the thought was there. I laid there for a moment in that half asleep/half awake state and listened to the lyrics of the song that was running through my head. The song was “Jireh.” I ended up getting up and looking up what “Jireh” meant, and found that it means provider. How marvelous to have that thought, that reminder, on the heels of the realization that everything I counted on, that we all count on, could be taken away in a heartbeat and without warning.

We are, as a society, almost completely dependent on stuff. We want stuff, we buy stuff, we shove stuff in a closet to make room for more stuff. We sign on the dotted line to chain ourselves to a harsh taskmaster all so we can have stuff. We stay in jobs we don’t like and that don’t fulfill us, working many many hours, devoting our waking energy and intellect to a job, all so we can have stuff. Even if it’s just in the form of money, it’s still stuff.

We open lines of credit and max them out. We buy more and more and more stuff on credit till we owe every breath to someone else. We drown in debt and think that’s perfectly fine.

I remarked to a loved one recently that the phrase “living within my means” had to be redefined for me. For most of my adult life, that phrase has meant being able to make the payments. The far-fetched idea of actually not owing anyone anything was radical and not realistic in this society. But I’m learning that I was wrong. Living within your means, within your income, literally means you don’t owe for anything and what you do owe is paid with just your income. It seems like a pipe dream.

As I am a slow learner, it has taken my Savior many many months to get this idea through my head. I now have the burning, driving desire to get out of debt because, lo and behold, God’s word is accurate when it mentions money and debt and wisdom. Go figure. He has been instilling in me the desire to serve Him and Him alone, to be able to be generous with my time and resources, to share His love and His light and life with those around me. I can’t do that when I’m chained to a stuff addiction.

Galatians says for us to “stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” I read that and began listing the things that Christ has freed me from, not the least of which was an addiction to alcohol, a deep throbbing insecurity, and slavery to a false god that nearly destroyed me. I think about what it felt like and looked like to be addicted to alcohol…how every waking thought was influenced by how soon I could have a drink. Even though I wasn’t actively drinking at any given moment, I may as well have been because that’s all I could think about.

Many may read that and think that kind of emotional and physical slavery can only be confined to substance abuse, or even physical abuse. But it’s not.

I’ve been confronted with my own mindset toward stuff recently. For a year I have been in a precarious financial situation and have chafed mightily under the restrictions that brings. I found myself longing for the day when my finances would ease up, not for any altruistic or holy reason, but so I could buy what I wanted. I wish that weren’t the case, but being raw and real and honest, it’s just the truth.

I remarked to a loved one that I wanted God to change my desires so that increased financial resources meant the ability to help others, to be generous, rather than indulge myself with stuff. Be careful what you ask for, because if it’s in the will of God, He will do it. He’s eager to do it, and it pleases Him enormously for His children to ask of Him what He longs to do anyway. So He has been busy at work changing my desires, opening my eyes to His truth, and aligning my heart with His. I’m thankful. (I’m also thankful that this hasn’t been a painful process…sometimes the only way to get through to me is through pain.)

A week or more ago I had some real and raw truth dropped on me and had an “ah-ha” moment about debt and stuff and what is truly of value. It instilled in me a desire to do things God’s way, to truly live out the eternal perspective and operate out of the truth that this world is not my home.

Then I heard news that has the potential to devastate the county I live in, to drastically change the lives of countless number of people. I know of some who have structured their lives and finances to live from paycheck to paycheck, paying out nearly every single dollar that comes in. They have all the toys they want, the newest and best and greatest gizmos and gadgets, and can play and have fun with all their stuff. But now they have to make those payments with reduced or, in some cases, non-existent income. How very terrifying.

Others live more simply but still need a certain amount of income to survive, and will be required to try to find something in an absolutely saturated job market. I know what it feels like to look at your bills and wonder where is the money going to come from, and to feel absolutely helpless to gain any more.

I also know what it feels like to have my Father meet my needs, month after month after month. Sometimes with His magical math, sometimes through kindness of other of His children.

In the wake of the devastating news that hit our county, I had the memory of Jehovah Jireh come to mind. The Lord will Provide. I know this, beyond a shadow of a doubt, with every cell in my body, I know this. I have experienced it time and time again. But I also know that He will winnow His children away from their addiction to stuff.

He does not compete. He does not share His throne. If we have put something else there, we have declared our loyalty to whatever holds His place. But oh how loving and merciful our God is, to do what it takes to show us that He and He alone is worthy of worship. To free us from our addictions, our chains, our yokes of bondage, and fill us with the meaning and purpose and fulfillment of worshiping and serving Him. What a glorious divine opportunity to restructure our lives to follow His ways.

Stuff is a so-what. It’s taken me a while to learn this. I’m as prone as the next person to want to buy a new outfit, new shoes, new craft equipment or materials, to long for things to look nice and be beautiful. But all that goes into achieving that can be a yoke of bondage. And it was in my life. Go without it, or without the means to acquire it, and you learn what really matters. I have love. I have a Father who loved me so much, He sacrificed His own Son to buy my pardon. I have worth, not because I am worthy, but because I am loved by One who is. I have forgiveness of a debt I could not pay. I have daily mercy, grace, and strength to follow His ways and bring Him glory and honor. I have loved ones God has given me and an ever-expanding family that I can love. I am rich, not by the world’s standard, but by God’s.

God doesn’t count your toys and sit back impressed with your wealth. He counts your heart. He wants your heart to be so completely His that you will trust Him with your daily bread. Trust that He is good, that He wants good for you, and good through you. Trust that He has your best in mind, even if it doesn’t look like the best where you’re sitting. Give Him the space and the opportunity to do His work in your heart, and I can promise you, you will sit back amazed at what He has done and wants to do.

I don’t want to be stuffed with stuff anymore. I don’t want stuff competing for my time and attention. I want to be free of that yoke of bondage. Doesn’t mean I don’t like stuff, and it’s not likely that I’ll ever get to that mystical plane where I stoically turn my back on the stuff I like and live a barren and gray existence without anything delightful and lovely. I don’t believe God calls us to live that way…He’s too full of color and beauty and light and life. But I can trust that what He wants me to have, He will provide the means to get. While also reminding me that my home is with Him, my purpose is for Him, my life is through Him. That home, that purpose, that life is worth more than any stuff I could ever buy.

One thought on “Stuffed

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