I've been doing some purging lately and it sure feels good to get rid of stuff. Things can tend to drag us down. A friend once told me how excited he was to get a new boat, only to be discouraged at how much of his time it took beyond the few hours on the river each Saturday that he had anticipated. There was cleaning, routine maintenance and storing the boat. And more purchases needed to be made, as the boat needed a trailer, life jackets, etc.

A little stuff often leads to more stuff. If we're not careful, we can become a slave to the stuff. Do you own it or does it own you? Dusting, cleaning and fixing all take time away from something else. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

I told my daughter at the beginning of last week that I wanted to live more simply, and that it was my goal to cut down on "stuff" by half. I began with clothes. It wasn't as hard as I thought it might be, probably because my teenager kept telling me that certain things were not in style and needed to go. My achievement inspired her to do the same with her clothes. "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you - you of little faith?" (Matthew 6:28-30).

Jesus simply said, "Follow Me." He didn't say to first pack your belongings and then follow Him.

Emotional baggage needs to get the old heave-ho, too. It might be unforgiveness that has allowed a root of bitterness to take hold. Maybe you are a chronic worrier, always fearful and never quite trusting that the Lord is in control. Or it might be painful memories of something for which you continue to carry a burden of hurt. Often we carry things with us that we shouldn't because there is comfort in familiarity. But that refuge from pain needs to be in the Lord.

1 Peter 5:7 says to cast your cares on Jesus, for He cares for you. It is easier said than done when it comes to getting rid of something that's been hanging around in your life for a long time. I heard about a woman who took a stack of pillows and for each "thing" she wanted to get rid of, she tossed a pillow and pretended she was giving it to Jesus. He is more than capable of carrying both you and your burdens.

We need to be careful not to give our burdens to Jesus and then pick them back up on our own. Paul gave these words in Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Don't hang around the baggage claim department.

Stuff, whether it is physical or emotional, can get in the way of your relationship with Jesus. Is it time to let it go and give it up? Less "stuff" might mean you actually have a lot more to be thankful for come Thanksgiving.

Lisa Jisa and her family have been residents of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2000. She can be reached at lisa.jisa@gmail.com.


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