Some months ago, my bride and I decided we needed to downsize. The five-bedroom home where we currently reside is much too big for us to care for effectively. So we decided to put our home up for sale. Remarkably, the house has sold. We only have a couple of weeks to move.
The task of moving all of our earthly belongings from one location to another always brings me back to three key observations about moving:
No. 1 – “Stuff” accumulates. No matter how much you try to pare it down or eliminate it, the number of belongings that you own just seems to grow in galactic proportions. And the longer you live in one location, the more “stuff” accumulates. Some of the stuff you need in order to live, but that amount is relatively small compared to the overall accumulation. Most of the things we tend to accumulate are either unnecessary or just simply unhelpful to our own personal lives and growth.
Take, for example, our collection of coffee mugs. Over time we have collected in our home close to 80 different coffee mugs. Now, that may not sound like a lot to many of you, but according to my serious considerations and calculations, there is no way, if I used a different mug at each meal during the week, and only washed the dishes once each week, that I would ever come close to drinking out of all those mugs in a reasonable period of time, no matter how much coffee I drink. So guess which items will be included as part of our next yard sale.
No. 2 – Moving retards the accumulation of “stuff.” Moving is a time for culling and sifting and sorting and throwing out a lot of stuff. Drive down the street on any day before the trash man cometh and you can readily tell who is moving and who is not. Every move should help us to get rid of many of the things we don’t need and do something with the “stuff” we do need.
No. 1 – Moving also serves as a great filter. By that, I understand moving to be a true barometer of the grit of any friendship. Those who are your friends will readily and willingly come to your aid and those who are not will tend to find any excuse not to do so. Moving is a great test of friendships.
But these three observations about moving are true as well for life and for spiritual life especially. Note the comparisons:
No. 1 – “Stuff” accumulates in our spiritual lives as well. The longer we say we follow God, the easier it is for us to get laden down with pet projects or doctrines or things that do not really contribute to our spiritual health. It is easy for us to become complacent with “staying right where we are” and “unteachable,” and therefore, unreachable by God’s Spirit in order to grow us up.
No. 2 – Moving retards the accumulation. If we are never content to just “sit and soak,” but rather are diligent to keep on moving and progressing in our walk with God, we will discover that we will not so easily accumulate the prideful prejudices and doctrinal biases which “box us in” and thereby retard our growth.
No. 3 – We cannot do it alone. We need friends in order to help us move forward in life, and to move forward in a life that pleases God. And we all need friends who will, in sensitivity to God’s Spirit, come alongside of us to encourage us, to challenge us, and to “get in our face” when we are feeling tired and lax in our spiritual lives and disciplines.
Moving requires strong backs and patience to see it through till the work is done. It also requires cleaning out all the junk in our lives, so we just don’t keep on moving it from one place to another for the rest of our lives. But moving also requires good friends, who will come alongside us to help us in our time of need.
And one other observation: We are all moving all the time. Not one of us is sitting still. There is no such thing is marking time in the spiritual realm. Either you are moving forward in your walk with God or you are moving backward in your walk with Him. You cannot tread water in your spiritual life. You must make progress or else you are losing ground (to mix a metaphor). Jesus made this very point in Mark 4:25 when He said, “Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”
The only question for you and for me is, “Which way are you moving? Forward or backward?”
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette. He also serves as pastor of Port William UMC.