It’s that time of year. The basement is busting at the seams with toppling furniture, stuffed storage bins, and ephemera of every sort. The snow has finally melted beyond the basement door and the almost-dry grass beckons for its yearly spread of broken toys, mismatched dishes, and too-small articles of clothing. The time is ripe for spring cleaning, as am I.
For months- and let’s be honest, years- I’ve groaned at the sight of this basement of horrors. My husband ever more. I hate the clutter, the mess, the overabundance of stuff, and yet it lingers- with a fine caking of dust.
I have excuses galore:
It runs in the family.
It’s called “being frugal.”
You just never know when you might need another whatsit or dinglehopper.
I’d like to think they’re pretty good excuses. It does run in the family- but we like to call ourselves “pack-rats” rather than that other term that has television shows dedicated to such “disease.” And I freely admit that I’m cheap: never met a clearance section I didn’t like; love me some thrift stores. Life with three kids on a teacher’s salary necessitates such frugality and there’s wisdom in thrift. If it ain’t broken, ripped, stained, or otherwise obliterated, you can bet the next kid will be wearing it in a year.
So why do I feel so heavy laden? Why does it feel such a burdensome load to hold onto?
It hit me this morning as I was reading in Judges, one of my favorite stories: the story of Gideon. God comes to him, pronouncing him a “mighty warrior.” Gideon, so quick to correct, argues that his clan “is the weakest,” and “I am the least in my family” (Jud. 6:15). I like this Gideon, he’s relatable.
Gideon again and again asks for a sign, then another, and still another- to make certain, of course, that God is truly with him. Back and forth the two of them go, this timid, mighty warrior and the God of the universe.
And that’s when I heard myself in Gideon’s questioning.
Are you sure you said…?
Did you really mean…?
But what about…?
In a story about a battle between Gideon’s whittled-down army of 300 men and a legion of fierce fighters, I find my battle of the basement.
Are you sure You said You’d take care of us?
Did You really mean we’d lack nothing?
But I’m a pack-rat. But I’m just being frugal. But I’d like to be sure that next year we won’t be in dire financial straights, thank-you-very-much, and can I have a side of total control to go with that?
This sickness over the cellar isn’t about the mess.
It’s about the control issue.
If I can have more, make more, save more, then there’s little I need to depend on Him for. Nevermind that He’s always given far beyond what we’ve ever needed. Nevermind that He’s promised to provide as we honor Him with our tithes and gifts. Nevermind that He commands me not to worry.
This angst over my arsenal isn’t about me taking care of my family and the worry that ensues.
It’s about my lack of trust.
For every stained baby bib (because you never know), copy of Lord Jim Cliff Notes (what if I do decide to teach?), and yet another fondue pot that I keep (you can never have too many), I’m telling Him, “I don’t trust you.”
“I don’t trust that tomorrow You’ll provide if I find myself in need.”
“I don’t believe You when You say,
‘So I tell you, don’t worry about the food or drink you need to live, or about the clothes you need for your body. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothes. Look at the birds in the air. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them. And you know that you are worth much more than the birds. You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it.
‘And why do you worry about clothes? Look at how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that even Solomon with his riches was not dressed as beautifully as one of these flowers. God clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today but tomorrow is thrown into the fire. So you can be even more sure that God will clothe you. Don’t have so little faith! Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ The people who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them. Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well. So don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ (Matthew 6:25-34)”
“You may lead Gideon and his 300 men into victory against an enemy encamped “as thick as locusts” in the valley, but surely, You can’t take care of me.”
We go back and forth, Him and I, me being Gideon, Him being His ever-patient, loving Self. I sense His smile, the twinkle in His eye. He’s just waiting to be taken at His Word. And I’m like a child, dangling from a tree branch, unsure of whether or not her Daddy will catch her.
His arms are spread wide.
I close my eyes, grit my teeth, and jump.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sharynmorrow/7817738408/”>massdistraction</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>