I really hope this post sees the light of day.
I am in a season of incoming. There are lots of things (lots of stuff) that I am acquiring. Over the course of the next year, I will buy and furnish a house. I will receive many gifts from friends who love me dearly. I am in a season of incoming.
And because I am a Christ-follower and because I live in a 'needy' neighborhood, this season has taxed my spirit. There is an unconscious accumulation of stuff that just happens as middle-class Americans. We buy things and receive gifts, and things amass in our basements and attics.
My grandfather passed some time ago and some of his things were passed on to me. My parents recently moved and I inherited their surplus. My birthday is coming up, and friends will buy me stuff. And a season of incoming can easily turn into a long season of having, a lifetime of owning, a culture of needing.
And it is to that sentiment that I now turn: need.
My cell phone does not work that well. It often freezes and has some programming glitches. I recently said, "I need a new cell phone." That is not true. I want a new cell phone, but I do not need a new one. I am quite reckless with that word, as we all are.
Because when I need something it seems all the more justifiable. To need a new (and thus reliable) car, a consistently functional phone, a set of matching plates, or a comfortable couch makes the acquisition of such items all the more palatable and justifiable.
But were I to say the more truthful, but less noble 'want,' my character may be called to question. My selfishness possibly exposed. I want a new cell phone. I want a truck that doesn't have problems with power steering. I want nice cutlery and comfortable furniture.
I have 22 hats in my closet. Twenty-two. At South Street today I wore my 23rd hat and one of the kids who attends took it from my head and put it on. This is an infuriating game the children play for two reasons: one- it leaves my balding head cold, and two- without fail the inner city youth I work with and love inevitably look cooler than me in my own hats.
And when the service ended, the child asked if they could keep my hat.
I need this. Not my 23rd hat, but a consistent presence in my life that reminds of my propensity to acquire and my reluctance to give. I need the twinge of selfishness (because I like that hat) to remind me just how petty and selfish I can be. And I need a community where sharing is normative, where giving and receiving is a beautiful two-way street.
I often receive accolades for my work at South Street. I do not deserve them. I need this ministry, because it ministers to my selfish heart. My neighbors, brothers, and sisters (many with legitimate needs, many others with far more reasonable wants than my own) lead my heart to freedom by taking things off my head.
I am in a season of incoming. But there is a season for everything.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
LORD, grant me the wisdom to know the difference.
Grace & Peace