“Should I keep this or throw it away? Take it or trash it?” I spent a lot of the weekend packing, which meant making decisions. You know the kind. De-cluttering, packing, and cleaning have a way of making us choose what matters and what doesn’t. I’ll admit I’m a very sentimental person who might border on being a teeny bit of a pack-rat every now and then. I’ve sorted through cards, schoolwork, and craft supplies. If we keep it all, we end up under a heap that’s in the way and impossible to utilize. Stuff requires a lot of space and energy to maintain. Some things have worth in a certain season, but don’t need to be saved. How do we decide what has value and what doesn’t?
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
Last week I took two breaks from my transition tasks. One day I drove south to visit with two ancestors. Another day I hosted my 5 year old niece for an overnight stay. Both old and young helped me wrestle with knowing what has value.
From the older ones, I was reminded of the importance of knowing where we come from and what makes us who we are. Aside from a few precious photographs, we mostly exchanged stories, history and information; a record of our journey from long ago to now. I didn’t return with anything to pad with bubble wrap or put in a box, but my heart was filled with treasures. My own story came into sharper view as I see God’s grace in my life. I’m so grateful that “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” (Romans 5:30)
From the young one, I was reminded that people make “things” valuable. Despite the fact that picture books are packed and walls are bare, my niece and I had a grand time together. Announcing she would “use” our dog to do a show for me, she naturally needed a microphone. When I broke the news that we don’t keep microphones around, she said she would make one. When I said I had just thrown away the perfect parts for a microphone while packing, she said, “Well next time, Aunt Julie, just be sure to save anything that a kid might need in the future.” 🙂 For a creative-type like me, I could envision a reason a kid might want to use everything in the future! But when deciding what has worth, she’s right; “in humility count others more significant than yourselves,” (Philippians 2:3). Thinking about others gives value to a thing.
I put a lot of things in the trash this weekend. I saved the things of our lives that won’t burn up, and except for some microphone parts, I saved some things “kids and grown ups might need in the future.” I’m sifting out things that tell our story, things that remind me of where we’ve been, things that are testimonies of who we are, and things we can use to serve other people. I’m not done yet, so decisions are yet to be made. I recognize how attached I am to the things, the comforts, and the securities of this world. I surprise myself when I realize how much I “love” some of my things.
If I’m honest, it just feels good to have “stuff,” so I whisper a prayer that the Lord will draw my heart more to Him and to heaven. But when it comes to sorting, saving, and packing my stuff, I’m reminded that, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” (Matthew 6:21). What we count worth keeping, worth cherishing, and worth having reveals what we love.
A song for when we’re sifting through the stuff of life:
- Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
- Look full in his wonderful face,
- And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
- In the light of his glory and grace.
What makes something valuable to you?