Friday, January 16, 2015

On packing, dumpsters, and true treasure

I am currently in the process of packing up our house in preparation to move at the end of this month. We've lived in this home for fifteen years so, yeah, there's a lot of stuff to be cleaned up and cleared out. A lot of stuff. Fifteen years plus four kids? You get the picture.

It's quite an undertaking to be sure but I kind of like it. For the moment anyway. There is great freedom in weighing the relative beauty or usefulness of an item and then making the decision to pack it or give it away. I'm no minimalist but I'm liking the process of paring down to things I really love and use.

Packing has also been an exercise in gratitude. I have laughed and remembered and maybe even blinked back a tear or two as I uncover long forgotten pictures and scrapbooks and other memories.

And so much of what we have is due to the generosity of our family! Giving us everything from beds to tables to lamps to mattresses and box springs, our families have been so good to us and we are grateful. My husband's grandmother was especially generous to us, giving us furniture items like chairs and cedar chests, precious items like a Roseville vase and the not-quite-so-precious like an orange plastic colander.

Upon her death several years ago, we received her dining room table, chairs, hutch and buffet. When we drove over with the Uhaul to pick up the dining set, most of her earthly possessions had already been divided among the family, and my husband's father was emptying the house of the remaining items in order to ready it for sale. A dumpster had been hauled in to the backyard for convenient disposal.

I rummaged through what remained in the house on a scavenger hunt of sorts, saving a few items from sure dumpster doom. We discovered some Bibles, one belonging to my husband's great-grandmother containing the occasional childish scribble of his grandmother's name marked by her age.

But mostly it was junk deserving of the dumpster. A lot of junk, I might add. We spent the better part of the day tossing objects great and small into the dumpster. I can't tell you what fun my boys had hurling items over the edge and listening for the accompanying crash or shatter.

I thought to myself then, and continue to ponder today as I sort through fifteen years of accumulated possessions and my own fair share of junk: isn't that just like life? Isn't that what the things of this world ultimately come to: a dumpster in the backyard? These were items my husband's grandmother had cherished and kept for years, decades in most cases, now thrown into a dumpster and headed for a landfill.

She was a godly woman, my husband's grandmother, and she knew her true treasure did not lie in this world. In fact, the last time we saw her alive she told my husband she was ready to die, that she had asked the Lord to go ahead and take her Home. I am quite certain she gave no thought for the things of this world in her desire for the next.

As I evaluate keeping or tossing, packing or giving away, the dumpster serves as an important visual, reminding me this world is not all there is, and the material things I sometimes strive after with such obsession will ultimately end up in a dumpster headed for the landfill.

Am I storing up treasures in heaven, or merely filling the dumpster?

May I set my heart on things eternal, seeking after Jesus, the true Treasure of this life. And the next. For where my treasure is, there my heart will be also.

*Parts of this post appeared in an article at my personal blog, August 2007

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