“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
We want to hear God’s call on our life and know we’re headed in the right direction in the race marked out for us, but we’re hindered, held down by something we need to throw of that’s got us trapped. There’s something competing with our calling. Is it our stuff? Like the wealthy young prince we don’t want to leave a comfortable situation to set out into the unknown. Is it our pride? We know what God’s asking of us, but we’re afraid what others might think or say. Is it some other good cause we’ve fallen in love with but isn’t actually what God’s asking us to do?
What’s competing with your calling?
Do you think about moving here or there, but you’re too tied up with material things? This applies to the initial big GO overseas, moving around once you’re there and the inevitable return. Until just recently, I would have said, “I’m quite comfortable here. I hope God doesn’t call me somewhere else (even across the street) because I have so much junk I’d hate to have to move it. I’m fine here, thanks.”
However, after months of consideration and prayer, moving to an apartment across the street seemed like the thing to do and the doors just opened up. So we went for it. I know. Just across the street. But if you had witnessed my other Chinese move, you’d see why I’d avoid another one like a toddler avoiding naptime. On moving day, the workers show up and act as if there’s a fire in the apartment, and if they don’t evacuate the building in thirty minutes flat, someone will certainly die. Sane as we are, we weren’t about to DIY a move from one sixth floor apartment to another sixth floor location (both featuring elevator-less stairwells), so facing the Chinese movers happened.
Moving across the street made for a chaotic couple of weeks, but looking back, I’m so glad we did it. I cannot believe how much we threw out: old foodstuffs from the very back and bottom of the freezer and cabinets, ripped socks hiding away in overstuffed drawers like fugitives among friends, soiled shirts shoved to the back of the closet in vain hope they’d one day magically be clean again, used up craft supplies bringing joy to no one, faded and forgotten on the fridge or taped, fraying on walls, piles of paper waiting for shredding or reading or keeping. It’s actually embarrassing when I write it out like that! How did we accumulate so much trash in three and a half years?
By deciding to move, we forced ourselves to go through our entire household, one object at a time. I know people who can do that sort of thing without moving, but I felt so paralyzed by the clutter I couldn’t motivate myself to tackle it. Now, I have fresh eyes to live light and free (throwback to the 2015 VA retreat). It seems like every day I throw something else out, not in an “out with the old so I can run out and buy something new” fashion. It’s an out with the old and simply enjoy what I choose to keep sort of thing. It’s such a good feeling.
I’d like to pare my belongings down even further so I never have to live with the dread of “what if we have to move?” I’d like to live like a tent dweller, ready and able to go wherever whenever God calls. I’m definitely not there yet. While reading about tent dwellers Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis 26:11-25 this morning, I noticed a lot of talk about Isaac and his servants digging wells. Shortly after digging a new well, a quarrel with the locals would break out and they had to move on…repeatedly. It hit home with me because as a foreign renter, there’s always this underlying tension of “how long can we stay?”
Having just moved, I can vividly imagine the fanfare of it all for Isaac’s household. Pack up, unpack and spread out the tents, cook a few meals, dig…dig…dig…oh, wait. We can’t stay here. Pack it all up and move AGAIN!!! I know I just ranted about getting rid of stuff so I can live light and free, but their situation seems extremely difficult. They were tent dwellers–always aware they shouldn’t get too comfortable as they might need to leave at a moment’s notice. Adopting this mindset could help me not to get attached to my stuff so I can move well when I have to. Today’s clutter-free life is tomorrow’s easier move!
Maybe you’re way ahead of me and you’ve tackled the clutter in your life. So what about your pride? Do you feel called to go somewhere or do something, but lack the funds and you’re too proud to raise support, even if that’s what God’s asking you to do? (I’ve been there! Another story for another time…)
Alright, so you’ve tackled pride? ha. That one will keep coming back up. And, how about something even sneakier? The desire to do something good. Yes, even that can compete with your calling. You have it in your heart to do one good thing, but God is actually asking you to do another. What about that?! God works in unexpected ways. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t champion good causes, but sometimes we’re asked to put down one in favor of another.
Whether it’s our stuff, our pride or our desires to do good deeds, there’s always going to be something competing with our calling.
What competing with yours?