Back again with Marla talking about Jen Hatmaker's book 7: this week is Possessions. But before I go into what thoughts I had while reading this chapter I want to talk about Marla. Marla is a brave woman. Who else would host a read-along about such a conscience challenging book and willingly take on open and honest discussion about things that are challenging Western church culture like consumerism? And who else would do it with such grace and reckless obedience to the work God is doing in her heart? I'm convinced only my friend Marla would. I love her brave heart, I love that she doesn't think she has all the answers, and I love that she is so kind, forgiving, and apologetic when the iron sharpening iron hurts. I'm thankful she didn't give up hosting this read-along after last weeks explosion of discussion about clothes, 'cause I think this is all good stuff for the Western church to realize that consumerism is a cultural thing, not a God mandated thing. And now I'm stepping on toes...
I was just thinking the other day how cool it is to read a book about the journey God has had you on for years. I didn't realize that God was taking me through some forced fasting, I just thought he was trying to make my head explode! Every chapter so far has resonated in my heart not because Jen Hatmaker is so eloquent (although I love her writing,) and not because I feel really convicted by what is covered, but because this is confirmation that the journey my heart has been on over the last few years is good and right for me. I cried when I read about Jen speaking at a women's conference and all those ladies giving away their possessions, it reminded me of the church in the NT that Paul had to tell them to stop giving 'cause it was too much sacrifice for them. I cried in hope for those women, and in joy that God has brought me to a place where that seems good, not crazy.
When my husband and I married 4.5 years ago we combined two adult lives and households into one house. We moved into our house 6 months later and put everything in one bedroom and said we would unpack 1 box a night until that room was cleared out. 3 years after that almost every box in that room was opened, dug through because we were looking for something, and then thrown back in with more stuff piled in on top. It was floor to ceiling waste, and it just made my heart sad, but I didn't want to tackle it all by myself, and besides not all of that junk was mine. Sometimes I step back and marvel at the childish attitude I have in our marriage, it's all mine unless something has to be done about it and then it's not mine at all.
Then we started talking adoption, and quickly we started talking adoption of a particular girl. I laid awake in bed at night thinking of her sleeping on a mat on the floor while I laid in my comfy bed that I constantly complained about. I looked at labels on things I wanted to buy and often saw the name of the country she lives in. I thought of her beautiful face with sweat pouring down it while she made all of that junk that I didn't even appreciate and just piled in the room of waste. Her delicate hands struggling to get a seam just right on a shirt I wore once and didn't like how it fit so I gave it away. She is in a safe place and not doing hard labor, but many children in her country are not, and now I have a face to put to that ugliness. The daughters and sons of that country are slaves to the daughters and sons of this country, and we all turned a blind eye because we want to keep up with the proverbial Joneses more than we want to care about the quality of life of strangers on the other side of the planet.
So as we prepared our house for imminent arrival (which still has not happened 6+ months later, but at the time we thought it would be within the next few days,) we started to analyze every thing in the room of waste. We dug out every corner of our house, looked it over and decided if what we had was really worth keeping. There was urgency to the purging. We wanted nothing to stay if it would distract in any way from our loving our daughter. About half of our possessions went out the door in a weekend because we wanted our hearts and lives to be uncluttered. We wanted our daughter to walk in our house overwhelmed by love, not stuff.
She still is not home, and it's looking more and more like she will never be. So should we just start re-amassing things to fill the whole in our hearts left by the daughter who never made it home? Should we just readjust back to "normal" and forget all about the dream of loving people more than we love our comfort and happiness? Perish the thought! Even as I pray for God to work miracles to get her home, and pray for my heart to heal if she doesn't come home, I pray that God would not allow us to fall back into "normal" but would continue to conform us from glory to glory. The awareness of this precious life half a world away caused my heart to be aware of millions of precious, marginalized, forgotten lives all around me. Even if she never makes it into my arms, she is part of the legacy God is building in my heart. He is tearing down what I want my kingdom to look like, and is building a glorious messy kingdom of grace that gets all up in the brokenness of lives and sets prisoners free, heals brokenhearted, and cares about the orphan and the widow in their affliction.
I pray that God continues to tear down my waste and mess. I pray that his kingdom would come, his will would be done, on Earth, and in my heart, as it is in Heaven.