Friday, November 29, 2013

Minimally and Missionally

Over the last two years I have really been desiring to downsize and the last two months desiring to even go as far as living minimalistically (is it a word??) as I can. I am doing a Bible study by Jen Hatmaker called Interrupted and in it are some incredibly horrifying statistics.  Ones I knew, but never really thought about deeply.  Ones that I am embarrassed by.  Not in a "I hate America" kind of way, because I don't.  I love my country.  I know that God blessed us abundantly.  I am eternally grateful for that.  However I am personally embarrassed to be contributing to the consumerism, materialism, and overabundance while there are people struggling to survive the day.

In her study, Jen noted:
  • 40% of the world lacks basic water sanitation, resulting in disease, death, waste water for drinking, and loss of immunity; Americans spent $16 BILLION on bottled water in 2008. 
  • We spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half the world spends on all goods combined.
  • 1/3 of all American families own three cars; 8% of the REST OF THE WORLD owns a car.
  • Roughly 40 million people die annually from starvation, disease, and malnutrition; 65% of US adults and 15% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.
  • The US makes up 5% of the global population, but we consume 25% of the world's oil, 20 million barrels of oil a day; next is China at just 6.9 million a day.
  • When a group of leaders from developing nations begged US government leaders to explore intervention options for their countries in crisis, a US official was quoted as saying: "The American lifestyle is not up for negotiation."  (Hatmaker, p 23)
This breaks my heart.  As a Christ-follower my American lifestyle better be up for negotiation if I read the statistics before it!  My heart grieves that I trip over items in my house because we can't figure out where to put all of our abundance when every 16 seconds someone dies from starvation (Hatmaker, p 22).

How can I say I am a Christ follower if 1) I can't honestly say I do in every instance where He says "follow Me", 2) I don't feed his sheep spiritually and physically, and 3) I don't, on a daily basis, practice the religion that God accepts as pure and faultless {Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27} (NIV).

I am also in the final weeks of a study, also by Jen Hatmaker, called "7: an experimental mutiny against excess."  In it, you do a "fast" of sorts against the excess of 7 different topics - clothes, shopping, waste, stress, media, possessions, and food.  I can tell you that I have been impacted greatly by this study.  It has just reinforced my desire to live more simply with fewer things.  I know that people come on hard times.  I know of the Great Depression, I know of the bad recession in the 80s, I know that we have been living in a recession now.  We tend to put away or store up for ourselves after we come through something like that, for future times.  However, God tells us in His Word: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21(NIV)

I believe that if able, a savings account is a good thing.  One that allows you to weather small emergencies and provides a little peace of mind.  What I don't think we should do is store up in abundance, whether it be money or material items, when there are people all around us in our country or overseas who could benefit from what we have stored up.  And if we invest in ourselves by storing up large amounts of money or material goods, then our heart lies in those goods.  It also means that we don't trust God to provide what we need.  If we save a little but give the rest away to those are needing it, we have invested in God's people and are storing up treasures in heaven. 

I don't believe it is easy to be able to invest in others and give what they need if I continue to fill my home with trinkets and gadgets and watchamadoohippies. 

I wrote the first five paragraphs yesterday, then had to save it and come back later.  Last night I was tired and while Hayley and the girls watched Despicable Me 2 downstairs I came up and fell asleep fairly early.  The unfortunate thing is that I woke up just before 1:00 a.m. and was awake for the day.  God took that time that I should have been sleeping and used it to get me thinking.  How does living minimally look for me?  What changes do I need to make?  If I make these changes, will it allow me to then live more missionally?  To invest more in others; to give what they need.  I believe that God used this time this morning to show me that it can be done, that I can start down this path and make a difference.  He put dreams in my heart and thoughts in my mind.  I brainstormed and studied His word and Jen's word.  I started brainstorming what living minimally and missionally meant in my life. When the sun was starting to come out I went on the back patio to watch the clouds and the sun and the mountains and I studied some more. 

This time in Thailand has been good for me so far (other than a few small issues).  I have been able to see what Hayley has been doing here and that has been a great privilege.  I also feel this week has been sort of a retreat.  With the holiday, we have had quite a bit of down time Wednesday afternoon, most of Thursday, and basically all of today.  I have had time to sit and think, to brainstorm ideas for what God has laid upon my heart, and to just spend more time studying His word.  It doesn't hurt at all that part of that time I am doing that, I am staring up into some of His beautiful creation.  I feel relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to jump back into life as we know it when I get back home. 

I am excited to start some of the things I have been planning.  I am excited to share these with my kiddos and the hubs.  I imagine it will be hard for them to comprehend at first - it will seem crazy - but I believe that in the long run we will be more fulfilled and more Christ-like in our living. 

Hatmaker, Jen. Interrupted. Nashville, TN.: Lifeway Press. 2012. Print

Holy Bible, New International Version. Web. November 28-29, 2013. 

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