Possessed by Our Stuff

Americans get a bad rap.

We are known for our materialistic ways. Our wastefulness. Our self-indulgence. In fact, according to the book, The Overspent American, twenty-seven percent of all households making more than $100,000 a year say they cannot afford to buy everything they really need. And yet, according to a book called Affluenza, we spend more annually on shoes, jewelry, and watches than we do on higher education.

However, if you live in America, and have done so for the last few years, you likely have made cuts in your personal spending. Items that you used to find necessary “needs” have been placed on your optional “wants” list. Name brands that you used to shop, may seem less appealing than the knock-off versions at half the price. You may have even changed grocery stores, finding that a nice atmosphere really doesn’t offset the up charge to the items in your cart.

It’s been a rough time for many of us. But, in many ways, a much needed wake up call.

As my own family has made severe cuts in the way we live, I’ve come to understand more and more how much the little things in life can begin to take a place that they don’t deserve. How easy it is to realize that the “things” that meant so much to me at one point, turn out to be...pointless.

It was with this thought in mind that I went into the May She Reads Book Club Selection, Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge.

On the last day of the millennium, while the rest of the town is celebrating New Year’s and considering the Y2K fallout, the town’s richest old lady, Faith Bass Darling, decides to sell off the possessions she’s treasured her entire life for the simple reason that God told her to. As the rest of the town rushes to her front lawn to snatch up such bargains as a $1 Tiffany lamp, the reader is drawn to consider the question:

Do our possessions possess us?

Of all the books I’ve read through the She Reads Book Club this year, this one made me think the most. Living in one of the most materialistic societies on earth, which has gone through one of the most difficult recessions in recent history, I thought of all the many people who have had to come face-to-face with what their possessions meant to them—including myself.

And, in many ways, this book mirrored a story in Mark 10:

As Jesus was going into Jerusalem, a rich man ran toward him. Upon reaching Jesus, the man knelt and asked “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus gently reminded him of the commandments.

You can almost hear a sign of internal relief from the man as he replies, “Teacher, I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was very young.”

Jesus felt genuine love for the man. Maybe he knew this to be true. Maybe the man was a very good one despite his riches. And, Jesus knew how difficult the next part of the conversation would be.

Looking at the man, Jesus said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

The rich man’s face fell as the weight of Jesus’ words hit him, and he went away sad.

Though he was a good man, he placed too high a value on things that could be sold, and maybe too little value on the priceless things of this world. And the simple truth is that in order to be followers of Jesus, we have to let go of things, in order to free ourselves to serve only Him.

In the book, Pastor George told Faith Bass Darling, “The problem isn’t things, it’s the thing. Everybody has one big, blinding thing that is in the way.”

What is your one blinding thing?

Article taken from Used with permission.

Laura Polk is a freelance writer and textile designer residing in North Carolina with her husband and three children. Her passion for storytelling that speaks truth inspires her to create fiction that is both compelling and thought provoking. Laura is the Women’s Ministry Co-leader at her church and a host at Moms Together on facebook (a social media ministry). She blogs at Follow her writing journey on facebook, or get a glimpse into her quirky thoughts and inspirations for design and writing on pinterest.

Image courtesy: ©Getty Images/oatawa

Publication date: May 29, 2013



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