S T U F F

It is an interesting thing to have portions of your life on display in your driveway to be pawed through and scrutinized by strangers.

Yep. I had a yard sale a couple Saturday’s ago.

I worked for weeks going through boxes and bags. Attic. Garage. Storage. Weighing in on whether it was “worth” keeping this or that, or whether someone else may have a use for it.

Some “things” I came across would be worthless to anyone but me, and even I wondered why I was still holding on to them after years, even decades of my life.

I am sentimental to a fault. Everything has some sort of memory attached to it. Every paper. Every trinket. Every THING.

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I was speaking to a friend the other day about the craziness of putting your “sentimental” treasures on display for strangers. About how one person would be totally amused with and amazed by some trinket that meant very little to me, and how another would turn their nose up at something that was hard for me to let go, or try to haggle me down on the price.

She said her Pastor just spoke on “STUFF” last Sunday. He used this acronym:

Silly

Things

U

Fight

For

Well, what truth!

This reminded me that I not only hold on to actual “things” that I don’t need, but that I also hold onto “stuff” that doesn’t really matter in life. In all this, I am a work in progress.

After all, when Jesus called His disciples, they dropped EVERYTHING and followed Him with just the shoes on their feet and the clothes on their backs. HE was everything they needed. They left behind their jobs, their family and friends, and everything they had known for life, immediately.

Matthew 4:18-22 NIV
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. 

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. 

Can you imagine that kind of commitment? I am finding it quite a challenge to LET GO. Of my past failures. Of both painful and pleasant memories that I dwell too much upon. Of others’ mistakes and failures. Of my SILLY THINGS U FIGHT FOR.

Are you holding on to some STUFF that you need to let go of? It sure opens the way for more freedom when you can learn to JUST LET GO.

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Count the Cost

When I was younger, I would make decisions based on what I “wanted” without properly counting the cost. I would estimate what I thought it might be, but would not take the time or counsel to consider all the added expenses that may accumulate over time.

A vacation.

A fish tank.

A hot tub.

These are three reasons I created debt. I wanted what I wanted, and I did not want to wait long enough to save up for them.

When I was 23 I decided I’d like a fish tank. So, I went to a place that made custom tanks. I told the designer I’d like 100 gallon tank. He got to work. Then I realized I’d need a cabinet. The tank turned out to be 102 gallons, making it just slightly short of fitting in a standard one – so, I got that custom-made. Then there had to be a sump tank and all the parts for that. Then, I decided on salt water – so I had to buy live rock to help keep the water perfect for the fish. I discovered that salt-water tanks are very delicate and that the fish are hard to keep alive if the water changes more than a 4 degree variant in temperature. I also discovered that I had to drive across town to refill 5, 5 gallon jugs of salt water every few weeks to do a partial water change. This water change took well over an hour start to finish. Then there were the lights, the heater, the thermometer. The list goes on….

So, I had my fish tank. But, what started as a $400 custom tank turned in to over $2,500 to get what I needed upfront. Add to that all the time and cost to maintain it…. and the many fish who perished along the way. Most of them were between $40 and $100 each! I kept this tank functional for 5 years. I can’t imagine what I spent in that time.

I failed to count the cost before I jumped in. This was the beginning of my credit card debt. I repeated similar decisions several times. I did not find out enough information to know exactly what I was getting myself into, or I just chose to ignore the consequence of creating debt for myself. I was young. I thought I had plenty of time. I am still working through these consequences 17 years later, paying my accumulated debt slowly. This has been a tough lesson – and I am sure it is one that many can identify with.

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Counting the cost does not just go for monetary things – it also goes for spiritual and emotional things, as well as time commitments.

There are people we should not associate with because they end up sucking us dry. We should carefully count the cost to decide how much to invest in these people. There are things we should say “NO” to because the cost will be too great and we do not have the time to sustain all our commitments.

Jesus even told us that we must count the cost before we can be his disciple. He wants every part of us, completely. This is what he said in Luke 14:28-33:

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”

We should remember always to take the time to count the cost before we make major decisions, purchases, commitments and relationships.

I am still working on this! Who is with me?

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