Luke 9:2-4 -Then he sent them to tell about God’s kingdom and to heal the sick. He told them, “Don’t take anything with you! Don’t take a walking stick or a traveling bag or food or money or even a change of clothes. When you are welcomed into a home, stay there until you leave that town.
Gratitude Day 817
Please tell me that I am not the only person who has stood in their closet and said, “I have nothing to wear.”
Reality? The closet is full of stuff that has and has not been worn lately. Maybe a few things that no longer fit as well as a few sentimental things that just cannot be removed. Yet, we proclaim that we have “nothing to wear.”
I realize this is probably more common for women than men. However, I have witnessed Hubby Rick struggle to find a pair of pants that fit. (This probably does not need to be repeated!)
What we are really saying is we have things to wear. Just nothing we really want to wear right now. Yet, every time I go through this, I still find something to wear. I know this because I have never left the house naked and have no intention of doing so!
This silly example begs us to dig deeper into “how much is enough.” What your “enough” looks like may be radically different from my “enough.” My intention is not to judge your “enough.” I simply want to encourage you and me to become clear about what our “enough” is and whether we are living within that space or not.
Some folks who address decluttering and having less encourage a more dramatic approach than others. Some suggest limit belongs, as in a specific number of clothing articles. Or one or two place settings per household member. If this sounds intriguing to you, try it! I have not gone this far but I am challenging myself to be comfortable with my enough being less than it has been.
Why is it helpful to make my enough less? Here’s what I am discovering:
- Fewer choices is GOOD. Culture and society have encouraged us to have something for everything when what we have can often be used in multiple ways. Asking ourselves to be creative and consider another option is good for our brains and souls. Often, we already have a solution within our means. We just haven’t discovered it yet.
- Less options makes decisions easier. I have been guilty too many times of trying every option available only to return to the first suggestion. In the meantime, I devoted a bunch of time to something that may not have been very productive. Not every minute of our lives has to be productive. But this time could have been put towards something else.
- With less, I am finding more calmness. A couple days ago, Hubby Rick was helping me finally hang some pictures in our main living area. As more things were put into the space, I knew we were approaching a point where it would feel like too much. I want our home to be homey without feeling cluttered. It was interesting how my body physically reacted while approaching this fine line.
Most of us can live without a lot less than we do. I lived overseas for a year in a developing country. When I flew there, I took the two free allowed suitcases at the time. Yes, they were terribly full and heavy because they included lots of teaching materials. I had carefully picked every single item that I took. One pair of jeans, a couple pairs of pants and skirts. A few shirts and sweaters. A coat that could be adapted for different weather. Just a couple pair of shoes, including winter boots.
For 10 months, I wore those same few clothes over and over. Laundry had to be carefully thought out because it was done in our bathtub and airdrying could take days.
But I survived. In fact, I thrived. This is the time I look back upon with yearning because it was when I felt the closest in my relationship with God.
Upon returning to the United States, one of my first needs was a new pair of shoes. My sister dropped me off at a department store while she ran another errand. After 20 minutes, I walked outside of the store and waited for my sister to return. Noticing that I had no shopping bag with me, she asked if I couldn’t find a pair of shoes. This wasn’t the problem. The challenge was I felt completely overwhelmed by all the choices. After a year of usually only three choices for most everything, hundreds of choices felt out-of-control and ridiculous.
Clearly, I have moved beyond those feelings. But I often yearn for the simplicity I experienced that year. I lived a life of Simple Is Better but quickly forgot the benefits once back in the States. (Deep sigh.)
After Jesus selected his inner core of followers that we call the disciples, he sent them out into the community to share their experience of God. He told them to heal the sick and declare that God’s kingdom had arrived. He gave them very strict instructions: take NOTHING with you. Leave behind your walking stick and backpack. You won’t need any food, money, not even a change of clothes. When someone welcomes you into their home, accept it.
Because I am a proverbial over-packer, Jesus’ words are challenging. Too often, I bring things “just in case.” Snacks, drinks, wet wipes? Just in case. A book, my computer, something for work? Just in case I have a few extra minutes. I can’t imagine leaving the house without my wallet, cell phone, watch and a water bottle.
Leave even these things behind, Jesus says.
But … we think.
No buts, Jesus says.
Whew. That’s a lot to expect.
Yes, it is.
Most often, we use this story as encouragement to trust in God and learn to walk with the faith that anything we need will be provided. Today, I encourage us to think about what our “enough” is. It most likely is different from what we often think.
I am not endorsing you leave the house with nothing. As I go about my day, I will be taking those things I feel are necessary and important. But in our overall lives, the message of finding our “enough” in God and not in material things should challenge us to pause. Do we spend most of our lives searching for “enough” in our possessions rather than our relationship with God? Have we let our possessions become idols where we find meaning and pleasure rather than seeking this with God?
So today, let’s rethink what really is enough and how we can design our lives to live with this right amount of enough for us. Make your “enough” right for you and your relationship with God. Dwell in this enough. May it fill you with everything you need today, tomorrow and every day.
Simple Is Better. Enough is Enough. Amen.
For the opportunity to become clear on my “enough,” I am grateful.
Living God – You promise to always be present with us and provide our needs. Unfortunately, we focus so much more attention on our material and physical wants rather than finding our “enough” with You. May I take one small step today and this week to live within the security of Your enough. Amen.
If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it. Maybe Simple Is Better will resonate them as well!