One of my fave songs of all time is Burlap to Cashmere's "Treasures in Heaven." This song is based off one of my fave lines in Scripture: Matthew 6:20-21. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also." Think about it. Store up treasures in heaven. Because where your treasure is, there your heart is also. What a great concept. Way to go Jesus. Easier said than done.
I've been journaling, thinking and praying about a lot recently what Jesus meant when he said we should store up treasures in heave. what he meant when he said:
"I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me."
You cannot tell me this does not speak loudly to you (well, I guess you could. But I am telling you now I won't believe you). My friend Kylie wrote an awesome blog about living in excess today. It really tugged at my heart strings when she wrote
"The more I have been digging into God's word, I realize he is really serious about all of scripture- not just the easy ones to hear. I'm pretty sure we are actually supposed to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, care for the orphans, come to the aid of the widow and the oppressed. This is not something that some Christians are supposed to do. He even goes as far as to say he will separate those who did not feed him, clothe him, visit him, bring justice for him, and those will "depart because you did not know me". Could it be, we get to know Jesus more intimately as we serve the "least of these"?...Behind us sat a refugee family from Chad. A woman and her 5 kids who escaped Chad as their village got attacked. She watched her husband machete-d as they fled. She had acid of some sort poured on her body, and her face and hands bear those scars. She only has a few non-functioning fingers remaining. The contrast of it all was right there in front of me. And I felt shame, sadness and disgust. I did not feel like this was the life Jesus came to die for, this "abundant life". No, she had the life abundant, she was praising the Lord with all her might, dancing, shouting, and I sat there with my 90$ jeans and our 500$ iPads."
She's so right. That picture at the top? That's Silya, my little Tanzanian girl. Every month, my "support" is automatically drafted from my checking account. A few times a year I send her gifts and handwritten letters. Am I really making a difference in her life? I don't know. But the more I grow spiritually and the more I really search the depths of my being and what it means to me to be a Christian, the more aware I become. The more awake I become. Let's face it, we live in a very self-absorbed world. It's all about keeping up with the Benjamins (who ARE the benjamins anyway? are they an old version of the kardashians?). It's all about getting to the next level, getting that raise. Buying that big ole' house. driving that fancy car. Having those designer jeans and those red soled shoes. I could go on and on but I think we all know what it is to want more. Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of what is important. And our status - our worth - as humans became tied to the price tag on our clothes and the numbers in the bank.
I've been there. Part of me still is, but I like to think that as I grow spiritually, the less excessive I am. That I would have no problem leaving it all behind. That if I were called to, part of me wouldn't think about all the money I had wasted in this other life. I used to pay an ENTIRE pay check to live in 700 square foot condo downtown. At one point I owned FIFTEEN pairs of designer jeans. I don't even wear jeans that often so why would I own that many pairs? I can pretty much promise you that my rear end didn't look better just because the label screamed look at me. And as much as I hate to admit it, there was a point in my life where if you couldn't contribute to my baller status, then I probably wouldn't associate with you regularly. My life was all about what event I was attending in whose suite, what professional athletes I would be schmoozing with, and how I would not be picking up the tab thank you very much. I feel like there was a lot of glitter and there was a lot of gold. but there was not a lot of substance. But as He always does, the good Lord shook me until I responded.
I often lament that being a big girl is so hard. It's so easy to say woe is me and to complain that I feel like I never have as much money as I want. And then I look around at all my furniture. All the food in my fridge. My electricity bill. My cable television. My shiny Volvo. My designer shoes. My little Barbara who will never go hungry again. All the things that I have that I don't need (other than Barb. I need her). And I feel sad. Sad that even as much as I want to think I am growing spiritually, I am still so much of this world. Sad that even though I have so much around me, and I have never wanted for anything, that I still feel like I need more. I think about Katie and how she gave it all up. And how she is such an inspiration. I've never felt the call to be a long term missionary abroad. I've always known I was better suited, long term at least, for local ministry. But I do envy those who have the call to go abroad and serve. Do they ever want for more? I'm sure they do. But just as I am surrounded by things, they are surrounded also. Surrounded by less. The things they want for are things I already have: clean water, enough food, medicine. You get the point.
So maybe instead of having a new year's resolution, the challenge should be to have a life resolution. To live less in this world and with less. To take up the cross and really follow Jesus. To really feed the hungry. To really clothe the naked. To really be in communion with the least of these (and I'm not talking about being a prison pen pal, even though that would be a fun way to spread the gospel).
Don't get me wrong. I want that one particular Louis Vuitton more than I want pretty much anything else (ok, maybe not ANYTHING else...) but I guess when it comes down to it, I like to think I'd make a different choice.