Stuff, Storage and Simplicity

It’s amazing how much stuff one can collect in 10 years in one office – 15 years in one appointment.

Last week I finished my time at Pine Valley UMC by packing up my office and bringing it all home to my garage. (Of course, now my two-car garage is a one-half car garage.)

Someone asked me if I had purged my office. Uh, yes. At least a “ton” of paper in the recycle bin or shredded. Three boxes of books donated to the Conference Media Center.   Another 3 boxes will soon go to the Rescue Mission. Some of my treasures were given to folks and I’m working on at least another two boxes for the UMW yard sale.

Where did I get all of this stuff ???

I will admit I have this thing for books. More is better. Maybe it makes me feel more intelligent. Maybe I fear that by NOT finishing a book I have somehow failed. So I hold on to it – just in case I finish it. Maybe I need to realize that I will not meet the goal of reading all of the books that I was SUPPOSED to read in seminary. (Note: this May is the 25th anniversary of my graduation from Duke Divinity School.)

The question: what do I really need?

In the midst of this cleaning out, purging, finding a new spot for my things, I’ve thought about simplicity. The pattern for me is usually buying more storage bins to store more stuff.  Maybe I should just rent another self-storage unit!

Simplicity. It’s not just our physical stuff. We carry around all sorts of emotional stuff – never getting rid of the clutter that overwhelms us. We just take on more and more, pushing emotions deeper and deeper.

Maybe what we all need – wait, what I need – is a cleaning out of the emotional stuff, not just the physical clutter of my life. Are there resentments that I’ve packed up and stored for future use? Are there hurts that have never healed – just have been “band-aided” with dust?

I remember the words of a PVUMC saint who told me near the end of his life: “Trish, everything gets a lot simpler at the end.”

Wise words – but there’s no need to wait until the end. Right, Roy?

Building Margin – Week 1, Day 5

Daily Scripture Reading:

John 15:1, 2, 4 – “I am the true vine and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit . . . Abide in me as I abide in you.                                       

Psalm 1:3 – “They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.”                                                      

My Dad has always been a gardener. He worked all day at his job, got home about 6:00 pm, ate dinner and went outside to plant, weed and harvest whatever was in the vegetable garden. He was precise in his gardening – holes dug exactly the right shape and depth, the correct amount of water placed in the hole and the plants placed in just the right position.

A few years ago, I helped him plant flower bulbs in beds near the front of their house. Again, precision! He used string to be sure the line of bulbs was straight. He pulled out the yardstick and spaced the bulbs exactly the same distance apart. I remember thinking “What??” But he knew that plants need space to grow to their maximum potential.

So do we. We need space to grow to our maximum potential. We need margin to grow. We need nutrients to be fed. We need weeding to get rid of the junk in our lives that causes us not to grow to our full potential.

Are you growing in Christ? Are you feeding your spiritual life? What needs to be gone from your life so that you can be all that God has called you to be?

Prayer: Gracious God, help me to create space in my life today that I might grow to my full potential for You. Show me how to take the time to spend in Your presence and guide me to draw nutrients from You. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.

Reflection Question and/or Application for the Day:

How much space are you creating for God in your life?

In addition to reading this devotional book daily, consider waking up a few minutes earlier or going to bed a few minutes later so that you might have some intentional quiet time with God. If necessary, ask your family for a few minutes of privacy. Whatever time is best for you – be intentional!

What are areas in your life that need growth?

Devotion from Building Margin for a Balanced Life, devotional book, small group study and sermon series

©Tim Reaves and Trish Archer

All rights reserved

Photo by Jon Strother