Sunday, January 20, 2013


Too much stuff!

Through the years I've had nightmare-ish dreams about having to pack up all our possessions quickly to prepare for a imminent move.

Dreams are typically mixed up; the location, time, and people are all in a fantasy blender. In my dream I'm running through the house trying to decide what to take, how to pack it, what to leave behind, and what to send ahead, all by a deadline. I am anxious about what our four little children would need during the travel transition. (My adult sons are always still toddlers in my dreams!) In my dream I always have to fit the essentials into only two small beat up suitcases—the rest had to be left behind or disposed of in a hurry.

No wonder this scenario keeps cycling; we were married right after college graduation and we've moved across the country and around the world multiple times in our mission ministry. Our children probably attended a dozen different schools. My late husband and I weren't avid collectors of anything. I tend to be a “thrower-out-er” but my husband was a “squirrel”--unwilling to throw anything away. So things simply amassed as time went on. 

By the time I'm in my eighties, the accumulation is considerable. Sort of like the barnacles clinging to and covering the bottom of an old boat. Just before I wake up even now, I have an unsettled feeling wondering which country or city I'm in! This in contrast to some childhood friends who have lived in the same city and even in the same house all their long lives. 

I'm not an interpreter of dreams, but a few things shout at me from the context. In our advanced years we must think seriously about decreasing worldly goods and increasing in our spiritual closeness to God. With John the Baptizer I need to declare, “He must increase and I must decrease.” Eternal values must take priority. I think of my elderly widowed friend who lived in her own comfortable home among her familiar things since the passing of her husband. With the sudden onset of serious health problems, within three weeks her family had resettled her in an Assisted Living complex. She was reduced to living in one room without any of the possessions that had given her comfort and security. A weekend “garage sale” had disposed of everything she had treasured over a lifetime. 

We can't take anything with us when God calls us to leave this mortal life—not even two small beat up suitcases. The only investment we have is the treasure we send ahead to Heaven. I like the analogy of pulling up to a drive-through bank, putting a deposit in a cylinder, pushing a button and sending it up and over to the bank teller who deposits it into my account. The bank may go belly up and somehow I can lose my savings, but whatever I send up to the Bank of Heaven is everlasting.

I look around in my non-dream state and conclude that I have too much stuff! I need to get to it without delay. This is the time of my life to reduce, to trim down, to dispose of the things that I have become too attached to—give them away or throw them away. I feel the need of putting my house in order before I’m forced to. Lord, help me learn to hold loosely the things of earth, the attachments that bind me to the temporary. 

I came across some new words to the tune of the familiar children's ditty, “Three Blind Mice” that gave me a chuckle but packed a wallop.


Too much stuff, too much stuff, more than enough, more than enough,
It’s out of the closets and filling our space, it’s growing and spilling all over the place,
We’re tripping all over a terrible case…of TOO MUCH STUFF!

Too much stuff, too much stuff, more than enough, more than enough,
The piles are staring us in the face, they multiply at an alarming pace,
And soon we’ll be buried without a trace…in TOO MUCH STUFF!

Too much stuff, too much stuff, more than enough, more than enough,
It isn’t easy to run the race, with all of this stuff slowing down the pace,
I think that I need some additional grace…(to get rid of ) TOO MUCH STUFF!

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