(ROCKWALL, TX – September 10, 2018) I always hoped to draw the “cozy cottage” card when playing The Game of Life. But now that I’m unpacking in a much smaller home I’m questioning my game plan.
This current challenge does not compare with a life-threatening ordeal, but it sure feels like preparation for the next life. Our cross-country move, saying goodbye to family and friends, and down-sizing to an interim home has my world tilted a few degrees off its axis.
When the packing began, my mother-in-law warned us, “It’s much easier to move up than down.” Her words proved true as I tossed perfectly good furniture and household items overboard. I commiserated with America’s settlers who abandoned bedsteads and pianofortes alongside wagon trails to lighten their load.
My husband, Jim, recalled the words of Jesus: “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses,” (Luke 12:15*). For weeks he kept repeating the words—not to exhort me but to console himself since his power tools and lawn equipment didn’t make the keep-list either.
Now, just one week into unpacking, I’m wanting this temporary house to look permanent. The nesting instinct is strong, and I desire all the comforts of a put-together home. But this could consume much of my time for months if I let it. Surely God brought us to this place for a better purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says, “for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works….”
Whenever life takes a turn, whether toward adventure or misadventure, it’s easy to become self-focused and lay aside more important things. While our faith might be fully functional when life is in order, new circumstances often disrupt our “holy habits.” Bible study, devotions, corporate worship, outreach, and service to others can go on hold or completely drop off if we’re not careful.
Jesus was a mere twelve-year-old when he faced his worried parents who unknowingly left him at the temple in Jerusalem and then asked why he’d stayed behind. He responded with likewise wonder: “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).
I used to think ill of King Solomon for taking 13 years to build his palace after spending only seven years to complete “the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 6:38; 7:1). Now, presently consumed with me, myself, and dozens of unopened boxes, I’m thinking Solomon had his priorities right: put God first.
In church services we sing about surrendering all to Christ and following him wherever he may lead. In reality, the average Christian in the Western world lives too large and gives too little—even as we profess to serve the One who had “nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20).
In one of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia books, The Silver Chair, a girl is summoned to Aslan’s country on a mission to find a missing Narnian prince. The character, Jill Pole, keeps getting distracted and forgets to watch for the signs she’d been given. Fear of her strange surroundings along with natural desires for creature comforts—food, warmth, clothing—trip her up on the journey.
The apostle Paul mentioned losing a co-laborer who abandoned his mission, “having loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10). Believers, Paul said, “should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again,” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
This reminds me to get unpacked and out the door. Or, better yet, to get out the door and let the boxes wait.
*All Scriptures from the New King James Version
Patti Richter writes and edits Christian faith articles and has co-authored Signs of His Presence: Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering (available March 2019). Read more of her essays at blueribbonnews.com/category/faith.
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