It seems like it’s been a long time coming, but the members of my family—wife Teresa, daughter Windham and dog Mae—have finally arrived in Mount Airy. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for all the prayers and words of encouragement that many of you have offered for us over the course of the past couple months, nor can I say how deeply I appreciate Gray and Mary Jane Shelton (who brought us a “mid-move” meal)…along with Marvin Beasely, Lowell Layman, Bob McPherson, Ken Nowlin, Drew Nowlin and Owen Stone (all of whom turned out to help us unload the truck).
As it usually does, the process of unloading the truck got me thinking: Gee, I have a lot of stuff!! Of course, I know I’m not alone in that. Especially for anyone who’s been married for awhile…or who has a child or two…it can be downright mysterious how our hoard of “things” just seems to grow and grow, even without our effort or intention. And where the powerful forces of “almost-accidental acquisition” leave off, there are equally powerful forces of “marketing madness” that work on us almost all day, every day – trying to convince us that we need the “latest this” or the “new and improved that” or the “faster and more powerful other thing.”
None of this would be a problem, of course, were it not for the fact that we follow a Savior and Lord who repeatedly made it clear that “a person’s life does not consist in the abundance of their possessions.” As I’ve already mentioned once or twice from the pulpit, Jesus had more to say about the use of our wealth and possessions than almost any other topic, and most of what he said flies in the face of our prevailing cultural attitudes. Not only did he remind us that our self-focused consumption makes it increasingly difficult to live in a way that blesses others by providing for their needs. He also warned us that the worries about our financial and material well-being can quickly rob us of peace and divert our attention from where it most needs to be: the well-being of our relationships with God and others.
Sadly, an awareness of these truths doesn’t always lead to easy solutions…even for the pastor. But in a time when economic issues seem to drive so much of our personal and political discourse, maybe we take at least a step in the right direction when we come face-to-face with the almost ridiculous amount of “stuff” that most of us have – and allow the encounter to move us toward deeper gratitude and greater generosity.
Hmm…maybe I need to have a yard sale?