this is the question I asked myself this morning as I put various items out in my driveway along with my neighbors. Yes, this is the question and we are all searching for the answer as we deal daily with our overabundance, which we fondly call our clutter. We get quite creative in dealing with our treasure/trash problem, we build bigger barns, so to speak. Only we don’t call them barns, we call them storage units and we pay money monthly for them. Or we call them sheds and put them in our backyards. (I guess shed sounds so much smaller than barn, so we don’t have to admit the extent of our clutter. I hear there is even a “she shed” now. I didn’t know clutter had a gender?) We buy closet organizers and we hire professional closet organizer people, who make their living organizing our stuff for us.
The age old saying “one man’s (woman’s) junk is another man’s (woman’s) treasure must be true because it has spawned and it sustains an entire pastime/ industry known as the garage sale or yard sale. There are those who have such sales and there are those of us who spend our leisure time searching for and going to such sales in our never ending quest for that undiscovered treasure which awaits us or for that bargain of a lifetime to be had by simply using our superior bartering skills.
Treasure hunters and bargain seekers alike share the challenge of the quest as they go from garage sale to garage sale. There seems to be a never ending supply of “clutter” in our lives, so the garage sale industry continues to thrive. One person’s cast off is another person’s coveted keepsake and so the cycle continues. In other countries bartering is a part of the shopping experience. Here garage sales provide us with the opportunity to barter, something denied us by our own American retail system.
We even classify our clutter, maybe in an effort to bring order into the chaos? We often call our clutter “collectibles”, thereby assigning value to our things and providing a rationale for our intentionality in continuing to collect various things. These “collectibles” can be anything we decide is worth collecting; coins, stamps, figurines, books, beanie babies, Barbies, model cars, real cars — if it exists, we can collect it. Caring for our collectibles can keep us busy; as our collectibles began their job of “collecting” dust, we began our job of keeping them clean.
So trash or treasure? how do I decide? something that has great value to me might be worthless in another’s estimation. Some items are attached to a favorite memory I have. Some things are my connection to a person who is no longer with me. These things are what I have left of them, making me unwilling to part with anything that connects me to my past. As my past increases, so does my clutter. I accumulate things along the way. This rolling stone does gather moss (or in this case stuff, whether trash or treasure, as yet to be determined) So what is my response? Do I build a bigger barn?
That is exactly what a certain rich man in one of Jesus’ parables did. “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.’ And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ ” (Luke 12:18-19) But according to the parable, that very night the man’s life was taken from him. Which begs the question posed in Mark 8:36, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
So maybe bigger barns (or storage units) aren’t the answer after all? But what is? I found some good advice in Matthew 6:25, 32-34. “Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? . . . and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
The ultimate solution to my accumulated treasure/trash problem I find in Matthew 6:19, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I sure hate to think of my heart abiding in a storage unit, a backyard shed, a basement, an attic, a closet, a bank vault, a stock portfolio or a shopping mall; held captive by my own greed or my own fear of being without. I want my heart to be soaring free, held securely in my Heavenly Father’s hands. (yes, both those things can occur simultaneously, they are not mutually exclusive as a literal interpretation of the words would suggest)
Belongings can become a burden, but clearing the clutter from my house and from my heart sets me free to live and to serve, unencumbered by those things that would weigh me down and hold me back. With my trash gone and my treasure moved to heaven, I am free to run life’s race.
” . . . let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith . . . ”
sincerely, Grace Day