Ansell: Downsizing into a smaller house, getting rid of stuff and making more room for Jesus
We have been blessed with four kids, but their birthdates are so far apart it’s like we raised 2 different families. Miller, our oldest son who is a Presbyterian minister, is almost 37, and Klaire, our baby girl, is 22 (you can imagine he was weirded out at 15 that his mom was pregnant). Brooke, the jet setter, is our oldest daughter, and she is 33, and Jack the free spirit, our youngest son, is 27. It seems like we have been raising kids our entire life, and to be real empty nesters is strange. Klaire has been gone since her freshman year in college almost five years ago, but we still had her bedroom set up, and most of her things she could not take to her college dorm. Since she graduated last December from Houston Baptist University, she has gotten a big girl job, her own apartment and is pretty much off the family payroll (ha).
My point is, Jennifer and I have been talking about downsizing for a long time, and now the time has come. We have moved from about a 2,220 square foot house into a newly purchased 1,100 square feet house (if grandma’s house and a New York city apartment got married and had a baby, our house would be that child), and wow! It is a harder chore than we thought. We got rid of a lot of stuff before the move, but we are continuing to see the need to get rid of more stuff. We love our little house, but we also love our stuff (We all do - don’t we? Everything has too many memories connected to it, so it’s hard to say goodbye.).
We do a Bible study on Zoom every Monday night with dear friends from all over the state, and one of the things we focused on in the study recently was on the topic of materialism and consumerism. The study used Zacchaeus and Luke 19:1-10 to point out how after meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus gave “half of” his “goods … to the poor.” In other words Zacchaeus cleaned house.
I wonder how much of our stuff (material goods) becomes a stumbling block or an idol that keeps us from following Jesus? Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to, “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, …”. Jesus is our example isn’t He? He told us that He had no place to lay His head (Luke 9:59). Maybe we travel with too much in this life? What are the weights (this includes pride, forgiveness, revenge) of life that hinder us from running the race that Christ sets for us? What kind of spiritual house cleaning do we need to do? My experience is it’s not easy to get rid of a couch and chairs and blah, blah, blah - so I’m thinking it’s really not easy to do from a spiritual perspective.
Missionary C. T. Studd said it like this: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
And missionary Jim Elliot who was martyred in Ecuador told us, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Let me ask again what the writer of Hebrews shared: What are the things that keep us from Jesus and living the life He died to give us? Let’s all put these things out by the curb so we can run with freedom. He asked me to ask you that.