FIRMLY PLANTED ◽ ENCOURAGEMENT
Sometimes the work necessary to keep the garden looking good feels burdensome. The drudgery of raking leaves only to have them fall again and again, the clipping back every few months to keep even the evergreens from going nuts, the continual re-filling and cleaning of the fountains...why am I doing this? Does it really matter and does anyone even care? The daily routine of life can feel like that too. Wake up, work, clean, cook, fix, run around, deal with traffic, etc., etc. Does it ever end? What’s the point? ...Life can feel like a hamster wheel--UNTIL God shows up.
Now, I believe that God is always here. He’s always near, waiting for me to acknowledge him, but sometimes my nose gets buried in my navel and I just can’t see in that nasty darkness - I’m on the hamster wheel, pointlessly circling round and round with ‘no direction home, like a complete unknown’. Recently, I came up for a breath of fresh air - actually, he pulled me away from my navel and I heard him loud and clear.
I can say with certainty that when God shows up in any kind of way the hamster wheel stops; Light comes, bringing Life and Truth into my world, and then I see what matters more than anything else. A few weeks ago, I had such a moment.
In previous stories, I’ve shared about my mission to simplify, stop the thrift store habit, and get rid of excess stuff. Besides clearing the clutter my kids don’t want to inherit, I feel I’m following God’s prompting to get to a place of “less” so I can have “more.” More time and “white space” to fill in a way that’s meaningful and purposeful. Then there’s the prayer garden--started with mustard seed faith, it’s now a place to connect, reflect, and listen to the quiet voice that keeps me grounded and centered – a place to pray words that can bring God’s kingdom near. This is God’s way for me; he set my feet on this path; but the shadows of old paths remain to tempt and lure away.
Letting go of “things” started several years ago when I felt I was supposed to “give away” the excess items I was storing in the attic as a result of downsizing. I’d lived in two historic homes—antique and vintage was in my blood. Giving away was hard - my thrifty nature resisted, but I obeyed—kind of, half-way. Since then, I’ve sold, donated, and (sometimes) given away the majority of my thrift store finds, but one batch of extra-special stuff remained. These were things I valued the most - my special treasures - and I couldn’t just let them go. I reasoned they were worth selling, which would help me recoup some of what I’d spent on my home updates.
In August, a friend and I visited some shops in Taylor, Texas and on a whim I asked about booth space. Seventy-five a month, three month commitment - this seemed like an answer, and in about two days, I came up with several reasons why I should to rent the space. I priced, recorded inventory, loaded it, drove there, unloaded it and then arranged everything in a bright sunny hallway. Over the next month, I bought a few more items to sell in the booth. A few weeks later, I still hadn’t sold one thing.
Here is the moment: I don’t remember where I was. The surroundings can disappear at times like this. Suddenly, like lights coming on in a dark room, I realized I was going the opposite direction of where God had been leading me! I was spending time buying and selling, thinking about “stuff,” using my time and money in ways I’d been trying to leave behind. Like neon lights, the saving Word illuminated the truth,
“What does it profit if you gain the world and lose your soul?”
I felt the heaviness of being out of God’s will, of not being in sync with his plan for me. At that point, the treasures became a burden, a weight I wanted to just get off of me, and I began to hate the things I’d loved. The realization of pursuing the wrong treasure hit hard—and not only that...I’d gone backwards! The weight of it stayed with me for awhile, but I received it gladly. The discipline of the One Who Loves Like No Other is good and loving and brought me back into alignment. I was now willing to lose it all to gain what matters most.
I immediately took steps to get out of the thrift store business; but there are consequences—he can’t be anything but fair. The three month commitment remains. The entire booth is 40% off and things are now selling at that bargain price, but, after donating or giving away what’s left, it will be a ”loss.” It would have been better to just give everything away like he said in the first place - a shortcut to where I am now! How often I’ve missed those shortcuts! I hope the lesson pulled this thing up by the roots. I don’t mind the loss—in fact, I welcome it, because it’s a small price to pay for a serious reminder that I’m not just running on a hamster wheel. His purposes for me and my mission to accomplish that purpose matter.
Listening, obeying, following...staying true to the directives of the Keeper of my soul...
that is more important than any earthly treasure.
That’s what matters most...