The Weight of Success

Life Notes—September 23, 2010

“Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.  But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”  1 Timothy 6:6-9

 A time in my life when I felt most free and content was in the months preceding my marriage.  No, this is not some “A-bachelor-is-a-man-who-never-makes-the-same-mistake-once” type of joke.  I sold my home in the country and needed a place to live until we took possession of our first home in Lawrence.  I found a studio apartment one block from my workplace.  I put all my “stuff,” except the barest essentials, into storage and lived in a single room, walked to and from work and never once made a trip to the storage locker for things I needed or missed.  My sense of freedom had nothing to do with my bachelorhood; it had to do with my freedom from the weight of my stuff! 

Once I had a house again, the stuff came out of storage and, combined with Carrie’s, has been fruitful and multiplied many times over.  Don’t get me wrong.  Almost everything in our home has or had a purpose, and might have a purpose again, someday.  Everything has memories attached.  It is important in its own way.  But everything also has an on-going cost attached to it. Every item we possess requires space and resources, cleaning and attention. We trade bits of our freedom for every material thing in our possession—it lays a claim on us; it places a weight upon us that prevents utilizing those spaces and resources for other possibilities. It binds us in subtle, but real ways. 

It is an interesting commentary that one of the most successful business opportunities of the past two decades has been the building and renting of storage space.  Most of us simply have too much stuff and for any number of reasons, cannot seem to part with it.  Carrie and I have a nice, large house and a five-acre yard that soon will have only two occupants.  We must decide whether we will continue to heat, air condition, maintain and clean the excess space and accompanying possessions, or whether we will simplify and move into something more in line with our actual needs for shelter.  When we give up resource-intense possessions, we free space for personal spiritual growth, service to others, and a host of other godly possibilities.  In the process we may even regain a measure of freedom and contentment. 

Tom’s sermon downtown will be “Real Life,” based on 1 Timothy 6:6-19.  Life worship begins at 9:40 in Brady hall.  Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  West campus contemporary worship is at 9:30; Mitch continues his sermon series “John Wesley’s Greatest Hits,” with the third track, “3 Simple Rules,” on Romans 12:9-20. 

Come home to worship this Sunday.  Strugglers welcome!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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