Our church is holding a yard sale at the end of May to raise a little extra money to finish out the furnishings of our new building. As I've also got numerous house guests coming shortly and am motivated to clean before they come, I have grabbed the opportunity to sort out drawers, closets, cupboards and garage.
A yard sale is a form of barter. It's out of the mainstream retail economy, and serves multiple purposes. Those doing the selling clean out things and rearrange now more spacious storage areas and feel lighter in the process. The buyers acquire needed items for a bargain. Prices are flexible, what doesn't sell is donated to charity. Generally everyone goes away happy.
But the questions!!! As in, "why have I kept this?" And "why on earth did I purchase this?" Or, "what WAS he/she thinking when gifting me with this?" Sorting and cleaning comes fairly easily to me. I'm not much of a pack-rat and the only things I tend to accumulate in excess are books, gardening implements, and office supplies. Nonetheless, certain things in my closet gave me pause as I debated whether to keep or sell. The lovely shoes that are wildly uncomfortable--but perhaps they should stay, just in case. The clothes that I paid way too much for, and never really liked--but perhaps they should stay, just in case. The very nice outfits purchased several years ago which are classic in style but are just a little snug--but perhaps they should stay, just in case (and there is not a woman alive reading this column who doesn't understand that one). The decorative item that doesn't fit this house--but perhaps it should stay, just in case. The kitchen appliance purchased in a moment of wild fantasy that I might actually cook someday but has never been used--but perhaps it should stay, just in case.
Just in case . . .the future brings something for which I am not prepared. So I hold onto things I don't really need or even necessarily like just in case I might need it or like it or use it someday. But in the meantime, it hangs or sits, gathering dust, when someone else could get wear, pleasure or use from it.
A number of years ago when I was serving at another church, a woman came into my office and asked for funds to rent several storage units. If she didn't do something quickly, her house, inherited free and clear of any debt and worth quite a bit, would soon be sold for unpaid taxes. She wanted to get it in shape for a normal sale so she could get caught up financially. I sent someone over there to assess the situation. As I feared, her house was piled to the ceiling with only narrow pathways for navigation. She had frittered a sizable inheritance by purchasing stuff from TV shopping channels.
We presented the option of getting some work crews over there, sorting it all out and selling as much as possible. She declined. She was unwilling to part with a single thing. I declined to give her the funds for storage facilities. I know that she suffers from a type of mental illness. I also know that everything was there, "just in case" she might need it someday. That "just in case" was destroying her.
It's time to live freely, enjoying the necessities, which all of us are abundantly blessed with, and savoring the luxuries, which all of us have in one form or another. Get rid of the rest. Remember that the Bible says to lay aside the sins that trap us and slow us down. This way, we can run with endurance the race that is before us and reach the goal of perfection in faith. We sin when our stuff traps us. Time to get free.