Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
1 Corinthians 10:12
Given the nature of my blog, I share personal stories in almost every post. At times I wonder if I share too much, but I’ve come to realize being real offers more hope and encouragement than if I sugar-coated my experiences. Occasionally though, the Lord nudges me further outside my comfort zone and impresses upon me to use a post to confess something. So, even though it makes me feel more vulnerable than usual, this is one of those posts.
The Big Dump
Over the past few months, I’ve been cleaning out my closet, gradually moving items I rarely wear to my daughter’s old room. The piles containing a mix of professional and casual apparel grew so large my grandchildren barely had space to play with the toys also located in their mom’s former room. Thus, I made a final pass through my closet one recent morning and then carefully folded and boxed everything up. I added some household items I no longer use, loaded everything into my CR-V, and headed to a nearby donation center.
When I pulled up to the curb and told the attendant I had several boxes of items, he gestured toward a large bin and said, “You can put your stuff in there.” I set one of the larger boxes next to the container and was about to place one of the smaller ones in the bin when he said, “We don’t accept boxes.”
With that, he stepped forward, picked up the box, and dumped its contents into the receptacle. I could barely contain my horror as I watched all the neatly-folded items tumble out, followed by shoes and kitchen gadgets from the other box. The things I’d used, taken care of, and envisioned transferring in nearly-pristine condition to someone else who could use them were in a jumbled heap on top of the stuff dropped off by the person ahead of me. I almost closed the hatch of my car without unloading the rest of the boxes. And since this is a confession of sorts, I’ll admit there was a bag containing several items my dear mother gave me that I couldn’t bear to see added to the mix. When I got home, I returned them to my daughter’s old closet.
Standing Firm or Barely Standing?
Jesus’ discourse recorded in Matthew chapters 5-7 (often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount) contains some of my favorite verses in the whole Bible, including:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).
Though I haven’t settled on a life verse because I have so many favorites, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” is in the running, so my response at the donation center surprised me. I thought about it for several days, pondering why the dumping of items I’d already decided I didn’t need anymore troubled me so. I think part of it was due to the fact Mom taught me from my earliest days to take care of my things, and seeing them treated so carelessly offended my sense of responsibility. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if my response indicated I was overly attached to my possessions and somehow saw them as an extension of myself. Did I equate mistreatment of my stuff with mistreating me or, worse, dishonoring the memory of the one who’d given it to me?
The Lord used my reaction to enlighten the eyes of my heart. Regardless of the reason for the hurt, angry, incredulous feelings that sprang up as I stood by the curb, their intensity indicated I am more attached to material things than I realized or wanted to admit. After all, Scripture is clear we won’t take any of those things with us when we die (1Timothy 6:6-7).
Though pained by recognizing the gap between reality and how I perceive myself, I’m thankful the Spirit is faithful to point out the discrepancies. Like a trusted friend who speaks the truth in love (Proverbs 27:6a), I can count on Him to reveal my shortcomings in this and other areas (John 14:26). But unlike a human companion, He also empowers me to make the necessary changes as He continues to sanctify me (Ephesians 1:19-20).
Have you had a heart check lately, a moment when circumstances challenged you to reevaluate how firmly you’re standing in some spiritual discipline or another? If so, rejoice as I did, knowing your conscience is alert and attentive to the prompting of the Spirit, Who is unfailingly transforming us more and more into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Dear Lord, thank You for the Spirit’s work in our lives, instructing, reminding, and empowering us. Please help us to be ever-mindful of His promptings as we endeavor to work out our salvation and glorify You in all things (Philippians 2:12-13).
 Please see “The Ring” in Archives, August 2018 for more on this subject.