A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Spiritual Downsizing

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

The old adage says, “When it’s your time, you can’t take it with you.”
But even if you could, think of the moving fees!

Recently, I was asked by a friend
to help his aging parents with a housing move.

They almost have their octagenarian’s cards
and their move was unusual for a couple their age….
an eight hour move from the south to the soon to be snowy north.

It was a four hour drive to reach their new home,
My friend and I arrived at 8pm in the evening thinking we were late.

The movers were to have been there by 6pm.
The parents were to have arrived by 4.

The house was enveloped in complete darkness.
The doors were locked.
They were still on the road.

8 became 9pm.
9 became 10pm.

A cell call finally went through.
The caravan had been delayed.
They would arrive by 11pm.

Because we had an hour to wait, 
and hunger had set in,
we waited it out over a late dinner at a local KFC.

I must admit that in my mind,
I was curious at an aging couple’s decision
to move from the warm south
to a mountainous region where winters are usually harsh.

I also anticipated that they had downsized
like most older couples do,
just keeping the bare necessities and perhaps some keepsakes.

We arrived back at the house just in time for the convoy to arrive.
The couple’s car pulled into the driveway,
followed by a large moving van.

The lights from the vehicles shined onto the house.
I gasped.
This was not a small rancher.
It was a 4800 square foot ranch house.

A second large moving van pulled into the driveway,
followed by a third.

This 80 year couple wasn’t downsizing.
They were moving half of the GNP of South Carolina.

I did the math.
11pm at night
3 large vans that needed to be unloaded.
2 elderly parents, 
3 van drivers,
my friend,
and a dog that would not stop barking

It was going to be a long night.

Just like the lookout in the crow’s nest of the Titanic,
I knew I was seeing a disaster unfold,
and finding it too late to escape.

As the house was opened,
I stared at the long staircases that led to the second floor and the basement.
My back already started to ache.

The first truck was jam packed.
Lawn mowers, chain saws, lawn furniture,

3 sets of dinnerware,
7 filing cabinets
2 living room suits
1 King Size bed frame, springs & mattress.

Interspersed was what I call the ”head scratching items

TVs……no, not flat screens, the kind found in big furniture cabinets,
record players…….the kind also found in big furniture cabinets, 
encyclopedias…..remember those?
video tapes…. boxes and boxes and boxes
phone books….both yellow and white, from 6 states
typewriters…..yes that was plural
a computer…..declared to be 34 years old
pool supplies….. for a house that did not have a pool.
tax records …….from 1992

Many of us tend to hold onto things…
lots of things,
whether we need them or not.

Things that remain after past careers, relationships, 
and unfinished business.

Things that seemingly offer hope and security
but in the end merely weigh us down.

We hold onto emotional things……
grudges, unforgiveness, anger, stress, guilt, and shame,
feelings that we wish would justify us,
but  really just hurt us and others.

We fear being set free,
because then we won’t feel in control.

This elderly couple spent $10,000 moving many things that they don’t need,
to a region that they don’t need,
into a space that they don’t need.

Before I judge them,
I must look at myself.
Am I ready to let go of the things that I don’t need?

A disciple once asked Jesus
to allow him to bury his father,
before following after Jesus. (Matt 8:21)

Jesus’ response ,”Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” (Matt 8:22)
seems harsh, 
except that the father of the disciple was not imminently close to death.
The disciple wanted to dwell in the past,
and Jesus wanted to free him for the future.

How willing am I to step out into the newness that Christ has for me?

After all, you can’t take it with you,
and that includes the cassette tapes.

You shall know the truth and the
truth shall set you free.   John 8:32

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