Lent, Spiritual Disciplines

Confessions of a Hoarder

I tossed another heavily loaded black trash bag onto the pile and frowned. The stacks on both sides had been steadily mounting every since I’d begun packing for my move and I was beginning to feel convicted about both the things that I was donating and those that I was tossing into the garbage. Perhaps it wasn’t so much the things in themselves as the quantity. I was only half way through and a good 50% of what I affectionately referred to as “my junk” was no longer mine.

Some of the stuff was good (I wouldn’t have donated it otherwise), like the size 14 pants that no longer fit. I had justified hanging onto them as an act of “frugality” – after all, I’d never have to buy a pair in that size again. Never mind that I’d never need a pair in that size again.

Some of the stuff was useless, like the 25 pair of 3D glasses. If I had to pay extra to get into a 3D movie, I was certainly going to keep all of the accessories. Besides, these were an “investment” – someday, they’d be worth something.

Some of the stuff was downright awful, like the broken bits of toys that had long ago been discarded, deformed paper clips, and nails that could become useful if I took the time to bend them back into shape.

As I envisioned charity shops and landfills steadily filling up with my “collections”, I was absolutely certain of one thing: it was all too much. My intention in forming the stash had not been a bad or unbiblical one. I wasn’t “storing up treasures” in the sense in which Jesus spoke. (Matthew 6:19-21) My goal wasn’t to have “stuff” simply for “stuff’s” sake. But unbiblical intent or not, the result was a negative one. Over the years, I had collected so much that I now had to dispose of much of it in order to make the move to the mission field.

I found myself reminded of the words of Scripture: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1,2)

The Apostle knew that sin wasn’t the only thing with the power to hinder God’s people and that is why, for nearly 2,000 years now, the Church has observed the season of Lent. It isn’t simply about giving up sin (though that is a good thing), but about taking the time to carefully examine our lives. It’s about looking at our schedules and our priorities and determining whether they contribute to our spiritual health or prevent us from running the race as we should. Like me with my closets, drawers, and shelves, we often find that what we’ve been “collecting” isn’t as much use as we thought it would be.

This week, take the time to consider you routine. Examine your habits. Take a look at the things with which you fill your hours. Then make the commitment to discard everything that stands between you and your ability to effectively follow God’s call!

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