We took a walk tonight, just Jamesy and I. He was snug in his footy jammies, fastened in the jogging stroller as we weaved in and out of the neighborhood around us. It was that sweet spot of evening, where the sun glows low and luminous right before its curtain call. Lights spilled warm, soft, and yellow from windows. A few neighbors sat on porches, enjoying the mild autumn evening, waving hellos. I like the quietness of being on a walk with no need for conversation. Life is so loud and busy, that I need intentional solitude and stillness. It's always there in those moments that I grow introspective, and it's there that I meet my Savior.
As I walked, I came upon an adorable brick home, with electric candles filling the windows, and autumn decor tastefully displayed in every possible nook and cranny. The house was so welcoming and lovely. The mums stood tall and proud, their color popping against the brick. The orange pumpkins were nestled in just the right places. The manicured lawn spoke of the owners' delight in their surroundings. I glanced at the prim decor hung on the door, and for just a brief moment my mind wandered away imagining what it would be like to move in. My heart ached a bit as I realized that I would not be decorating for autumn again, and I felt silly as tears pricked my eyes. But the longing, the yearning was there. The knowledge that, although I am beyond grateful to have a roof over my head and the hospitality of my in-laws, I don't have a place of my own any more, and I will likely never again have what I once had. I truly feel like a sojourner.
In that moment my heart was tender and bruised, as I was reminded once more of what God was requiring me to give up in order to follow after Jesus. He has been steadfast in leading me and prying my fingers gently off of the things that have mattered and defined so much of me and my life. He has graciously held the mirror up to my face and pointed out the log that was so grotesquely sticking out my eye. And wow, is it painful trying to yank that log out!
And this is where I pause, because this is where sometimes my words get twisted and confused. God absolutely is asking me to sacrifice my home, my possessions, and so many of my earthly treasures, but I am no better or more spiritual than another Jesus follower who has not been asked the same thing.There is nothing really wrong with decorating our homes beautifully, or living in nice houses. There is nothing wrong with collecting shoes and bags. It was just wrong for me, because it consumed me in a way that nothing else did. We all have to sacrifice to follow Jesus. There is no way around it. I do not believe there is any way around the pain of it either. I believe that the sacrifices He requires are as unique as the individuals who follow Him. He knows our weaknesses. He knows what is winning our affections. He knows the bends and curves of our hearts, and what we are replacing Him with. He knows what consumes us more than Himself. Oh, He knows the areas in our life that need to decrease, so that He can increase. For me it is materialism and consumerism, because when I am trapped in them, and I have been for so long, the stuff consumes far more of me than Jesus consumes me.
It is rather interesting that every single morning I pray over each of my children that they would be completely consumed by Jesus, and yet, here I am, an adult, still struggling with this. Truthfully, I think it will be a battle for the rest of my life. Today, my mom-in-law took me on a shopping spree for my birthday - online. I spent a good hour pouring over clothes, and it was fun. I have not purchased new clothing in so long. I went back and forth, back and forth until I finally settled on what I wanted. And it wasn't until that walk tonight, that I realized what that money could have been used on - a Christmas gift for Fassika, our Compassion child, or deposited directly into our Mercy Branch Inc. account, or used on bills, or sent to one of Habi's friends to pay for a month or more of food etc. And while, I do not really feel guilty, nor necessarily feel as if it was wrong of me to order those clothes, I am also once again confronted with how easily I fall right back into old desires. How easily it is that I forget and neglect to seek first the Kingdom.
And that is truly what this all comes down to. I want to want to seek first the Kingdom, but I am not there yet. There are still sacrifices to be made, there are still heart desires to be replaced, and there is still so much growth that needs to take place. My eyes still flitter so easily away from Jesus and land on all the pretty things. I am striving to replace all of the pretty things with Jesus.
But it is hard. Sanctification is grueling.
I miss this, and perhaps I always will, but perhaps one day I will be so consumed with Jesus, and my eyes will be so fixed on His face that the longing will fade away, and I will be consumed by nothing and no one but Jesus. And all of the pretty things will lose their luster when I see Him for Who He is.