MAF. After we crossed that hurdle, we began our ministry partnership. Then once fully funded, we leaped towards our next goal, which was the move to Canada and language school. Now, that season is behind us and our next goal is to purge our things in storage and pack up our lives for Africa.
We have limited space and our lives must now fit into 12 large tubs. I never realized how hard this step could be. To take everything we own: photos and frames, pots and pans, linens and pillows, books and DVD's and condense them all into a "few" boxes. Once minute I feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of useless items we have carried around for so long claiming it to have sentimental value and the next minute I feel we don't have enough stuff.
I look at my jewelry box. A beautiful gift given by my mother to me to hold all those precious trinkets that I looked forward to wearing. But I can't take it to Africa. Not only would the jewelry separate me from the local Africans because of their poverty, the I cannot waste that bit of space that could be used for something more useful. I think about my favorite fall brown boots that have a 3" heel. They go perfect with skirts and they are so comfortable. They were a gift from my husband and I love wearing them. But I can't take them to Africa. Not only is it too hot to wear calf length boots, but they are not practical for the landscape and they definitely would separate me from the locals.
The other day, I was looking at a picture my friend posted on Facebook of a cute little girl's summer dress. I must confess, I loved the idea of Adah wearing that cute dress! I wanted more than anything to buy a new outfit for my sweet baby to prance around in. But deep down, I realized I could not. With limited space for storage, another dress would take up room that could go to something more needed. But a battle soon ensued in my mind:
"But it is just a scrap of material," says the little red devil on one shoulder.
"But she already has enough clothing," exclaims the little white angel on the other shoulder.
"But the dress is adorable and will she will love it," declares the devil.
"But you should not waste money," cries the angel.
"But you get a discount if you buy two," the devil pronounces triumphantly.
"But a dressmaker can make one locally," the angel utters loudly.
Eventually my conscience grows a backbone and I did not yield into temptation, but for a few moments, I wanted to feel "normal." I wanted to be like every other person in our consumer driven society and just go shopping. I see a new kitchen gadget on TV and think "WOW! I need that!" But then I realize, no I don't. I need room for bed sheets in our tubs. I see an advertisement for a sale on scrap booking supplies, and I think to myself how much use I could get out of those things. But I don't need them. I need the space for a four year supply of medication. I flipped through a magazine and looked at all the lovely ladies clothing and think I need new clothing. But I don't. The clothes were not practical or appropriate for what I will soon be doing. Besides, I really do need some mosquito nets.
I long to fill the melancholy in my heart with nothingness...with stuff. I realize I have allowed false idols to consume my mind and my heart instead of God. In my desire to have everything I believe I need for Africa, I have allowed my desires to devour my every thought. This way of thinking has even crept into my prayers. On numerous occasions, I have caught myself saying "thank you God for all the things you have given to us". Sure, God can bless us with "things", but it is way too easy for us to focus so much on the "things, the "stuff" and forget that the "things" are really to help us be better servants to His people.
Have you ever allowed something to become a false idol that has separated you from God?