“Who Needs Our Stuff?”
a devotional by Ashley Lawrence
Last week I went to an antique store.
The owner was a kind and elderly person, but they followed me around the entire time trying to persuade me to buy their stuff.
“Buy things so you can help me retire”, they said.
‘They should have retired 15 years ago’ I thought.
“Help me get rid of this junk”, they kept saying as they pointed to things.
I finally asked, “So how did you get all of this? Did you buy the store and it came with everything??”
“Oh, no.” They replied, “It’s all mine. I’ve been collecting for years.”
Those three words echoed in my mind the rest of the day.
I bet the owner enjoyed finding trinkets for his boxes and shelves all those years…the hunt for bargains is addicting!
But I think the realization has finally set in that maybe they could’ve spent their money elseware…maybe they could’ve retired 15 years ago like people their age typically do…and maybe stuff hasn’t really make them happy, and it’s just a burden now…
I’ve mentioned the quote a few times to my husband, and told him that we need to work on this together so we don’t “collect for years”.
So I prayed this short little prayer: “God, connect us with people who need our stuff.”
I read that prayer in the inspirational and entertaining book, “7” by Jen Hatmaker, and I really liked it.
“7” was a social experiment by Jen. She felt trapped in a “machine of excess” and wanted to try living as simply as possible. In a journal-styled format, she documented each month’s progress.
Each month, for 7 months, she focused on a new topic. She chose 7 topics: food, clothing, spending, media, possessions, waste, and stress.
During the month of Clothing, she only allowed herself to wear 7 articles of clothing from her closet.
During the month of Possessions, she gave away 7 things from her home each day.
She also prayed the little prayer above.
And check out the eye-opening realization that she had (pages 88-90):
“”Rabbi, I want to see.” Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52) asked for the most basic human need. In biblical times blindness meant he was considered cursed by God, which made him unclean, which made him an outcast, which made him a beggar. Unlike James and John who (nine verses earlier) asked to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand in glory…, Bartimaeus only asked for mercy.
This is like the starving asking for food, the orphan asking for parents, the homeless asking for shelter, the sick asking for medicine; basic human needs – food, shelter, care, love. These aren’t tangled up in power or position; they aren’t born out of entitlement or greed. They are a plea for mercy, the cry of every human heart.
The poor world is begging for mercy like Bartimaeus, while the rich world is asking for more favor like James and John.
I taught this mess at the BGCO Ladies’ Retreat…I wondered if the American church was like well-mannered nice talkers, sitting in a living room sipping coffee, talking about choir practice, while the world burns down outside our windows. While the richest people on earth pray to get richer, and the rest of the world begs for intervention with their faces pressed to the windows, watching us drink our coffee, unruffled by their suffering.
It’s just not right.
So I blubbered in front of three thousand women, bawling for the anguish of others and my own heinous disinterest, worried we were missing the point. I told the story about giving away my favorite cowboy boots and asked if a similar moment wasn’t in order – not that the shoes will change anyone’s life, but there is something spiritual and submissive about offering the shoes on your feet, the sweater off your back. It tells Jesus: I’m in.
Before I formalized this or offered any structure, women started pouring down the aisles, pulling their shoes off. They left jackets, Bibles, purses, diamond necklaces, cameras, iPhones, bags – I have never seen anything like it. Eventually I just turned off my microphone as hundreds of women lay face down, sobbing, barefoot. The stage was covered in their offerings, falling onto the ground and taking over the room.
It filled seventy large moving boxes.
There is much hope for the American church. It’s too soon to declare the Bride hopelessly selfish or irrelevant…Thousands of women went home in the pouring rain barefooted. The church is not beyond the movement of Jesus!
Please, don’t miss it because the American Dream seems a reasonable substitute, countering the apparent downside to living simply so others can live at all. Do not be fooled by the luxuries of this world: they cripple our faith. As Jesus explained, the right things have to die so the right things can live – we die to selfishness, greed, power, accumulation, prestige, and self-preservation, giving life to community, generosity, compassion, mercy, brotherhood, kindness, and love.”
This book is a fire! I have read it so many times, and I always walk away feeling ready to make a change. A huge change! We were made to be more than just collectors!
“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.”
I wonder if you are willing to pray that simple line too: “Connect us with people who need our stuff.”
Recently I did, and I’m still sitting here in disbelief at how FAST God answered my prayer.
Here’s what happened:
I noticed a bunch of things in our house that we just didn’t need. Some were brand new wedding gifts, some were clothing items, etc… Someone else could find joy in these things!
I looked at the pile of 20 items and asked God, “show me who needs this stuff!”
45 minutes after I prayed, someone approached me asking if I would help out with their ministry. The ministry was needing a large supply of small gifts for women.
They also mentioned about Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes!
Also, I noticed someone walking around camp wearing a particular pair of mittens. I realized that the new winter headband I no longer wanted matched almostttt exactly! Maybe she would want it?
In less than a few hours, the pile was gone!!!
Anything good that comes from clutter is from God!!!
This is not a post about me so I can explain how many things I gave away.
This is about “Look what can happen when we ask God “HOW CAN I HELP SOMEONE TODAY”, He shows us, then we do it.” It’s exciting!!!!!!
This is what Christians were made to do!!!!
I wonder what the rest of these days will hold. Who else will need what we have???
The only way we will know, though, is if we open our hands and open our heart.
We need to be willing to “catch His heart beating, and see through God’s eyes” (like the Beckah Shae song says).
“I’ve asked God a billion times why I have so much while others have so little…Why does water flow freely from the faucets? Why do we get to go to the doctor when we’re sick? There is no easy answer.
The why definitely matters, but so does the what. What do we do with our riches? What should we keep? What should we share? I better address this inequality since Jesus identified the poor as His brothers and sisters and my neighbor.” – Jen Hatmaker
We have been blessed, now it’s time for us to be a blessing.
Here are some ideas of what you can do with your stuff:
HOST A FREE SWAP – This could be done with just your close friends, or as a ministry opportunity to families in your area who are struggling financially. Invite your friends (and their friends) over to display all of the items they no longer use (clothing, shoes, home decor, bedding, books…) and open your doors to those who could benefit from it! It’s such a blessing to give and receive, especially when it’s free! 🙂
OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD – We all know that Christmas shoeboxes can be filled with stuffed animals, a toothbrush, candy, etc… but did you know that you can also include mini sewing kits (don’t forget fabric!), mini pots and pans, hammer and nails (for older boys), sturdy plastic dishes and silverware, soccer ball with pump, duct tape, etc.? (see: http://faithfulprovisions.com/101-operation-christmas-child-shoebox-ideas/ & https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/what-goes-in-my-shoebox-suggestions/)
12 DAYS of CHRISTMAS – Someone you know might be struggling with joy this Christmas season. Maybe you have 12 brand-new or like-new items on hand. Wrap each one up with a Bible verse, and tape on a # (1-12). On December 13th, secretly drop off the bag of gifts for them, so they will have the happiness of opening a surprise gift each day until Christmas 🙂
NURSING HOMES – Most Nursing Homes accept donations of gently used DVD’s (I’ve heard they love old shows like Andy Griffith), CD’s, audiobooks, magazines, large print books, board games, and craft supplies. Call around to your local Nursing Homes to see if they would be willing to accept your donations!
DO YOU LOVE ANIMALS? – Call your local animal shelter to see if they would accept your donation of old blankets, sheets, towels, rugs, sleeping bags, and sweaters.
There are so many other places that need your help! See what ministries your church is involved in. Check out if your local schools need Winter clothing for some of their students. Do you have a friend leaving for a mission trip soon? The opportunities are endless.